TUMAKURU: In a major setback to Water Resources Minister M B Patil, the centenarian seer Sri Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt has clarified that he has not extended his support for the demand for a separate religion tag for Lingayats. In a release, the 109-year-old seer said, “When the Water Resources Minister met me at the Mutt on Sunday, and spoke about the separate religion status issue, I told him that the term Veerashaiava is used by the urban people, while Lingayath is used by the rural people. The religious heads of the community should sit together and take a collective decision."
"But I came to know that Patil has claimed that, as it appeared in the media, I had favoured for separate religion status for Lingayats. If anybody tries to divide the community like this, it is not in good taste. It is necessary that the leaders of the community should sit across the table and formulate a consensus after the deliberations.” The junior pontiff of the Mutt Sri Siddalinga Swamiji spoke to the reporters and clarified that both Veerashaiva and Lingayaths are the same and there shouldn’t be any confusion about it.
Meanwhile, speaking to mediapersons in Vijayapura, M B Patil said that he stands by his earlier statement in which he had said that Siddaganga Swamiji had said that Lingayat and Veerashaiva dharmas were different. He also added that he has a proof to substantiate his statements.State BJP leaders have accused Patil of trying to divide the community for political gains. Former Minister and BJP leader V Somanna said, “M B Patil should focus on his work instead of dabbling in the religion issue."