BENGALURU: With the Assembly elections fast approaching, Congress seems to be in a hurry to tap the ongoing campaign of Veerashaiva-Lingayats for a separate religion tag. As the Veerashaivas and Lingayats continue to spar with each other, efforts are on by the Siddaramaiah government to submit a formal representation to the Union government in this regard during the run-up to the assembly elections.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met community leaders, including Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha president Shamanuru Shivashankarappa, and leaders of Lingayat Dharma Horata Samiti which is being spearheaded by Water Resources Minister M B Patil, Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil and JD(S) MLC Basavaraj Horatti away from the media glare here on Thursday.
The confidential meeting, which lasted for about an hour, dwelt at length the divide within the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community over the demand for a separate religion which is undermining the interests of the community.
According to a prominent leader who attended the meeting, Siddaramaiah expressed displeasure at the warring groups within the community and appealed to them to bury their differences. He expressed his readiness to submit a formal representation to the Union government to accord separate religion status for the community if they iron out their differences well before the Election Commission announces the assembly poll schedule for the state.
The Chief Minister is said to have asked the leaders to act fast as he explained that the issue cannot be pursued by his government if a decision is not taken before the poll code comes into effect in the state.
The infusion of new dynamism to get the separate religion tag by Siddaramaiah government is being seen as part of the Congress strategy to break BJP’s Lingayat vote bank.