BENGALURU: The combative approach of the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, which has decided to fight the Siddaramaiah government on Lingayat religion issue, has come as a big respite for the BJP. It is likely to give some firepower for the party that has been pushed completely on the defensive.
Siddaramaiah has been aggressively pursuing the issue with the hope of denting BJP’s Lingayat vote bank ahead of the assembly elections as Veerashaiva-Lingayats form around 17% of the state’s population. Of this, 3% are Veerashaivas and remaining Lingayats. The community is spread across the state and their support will be crucial for any political party.
“The Lingayat community has backed the BJP in earlier elections. Now, by triggering the debate and going ahead with its decision to accord minority religion status, the Congress hopes to get some support from the community in the assembly elections,” said a Veerashaiva community leader. “That may not happen as people of the community can clearly see the motive behind taking such a decision just before the elections,” he said.
The Mahasabha has decided to approach the Centre with its demand for consider its 2013 proposal to accord religious minority status to the entire Veerashaiva-Lingayat community and not just to Lingayats and Veerashaivas who believe in Basavanna’s teachings.
The Mahasabha is opposing inclusion of the words “those who follow Basavanna’s teachings.” Though almost all Veerashaiva-Lingayats follow Basavanna’s teachings, the move to add that clause is seen as an attempt to divide the society by keeping a small section out of the minority religion ambit. But the government went ahead with the decision.