LONDON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today paid floral tributes at the bust of 12th century Lingayat philosopher and social reformer Basaveshwara at Albert Embankment Gardens on the banks of the river Thames.
The event was organised by The Basaveshwara Foundation, a non-profit organisation-based in the UK that has installed the statue of Basaveshwara.
This comes in the backdrop of Karnataka Cabinet recommending to the Centre grant of religious minority status for Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community.
Lingayats/Veerashaivas, estimated to form 17 per cent of the state's population, are considered the BJP's traditional voter base in Congress-ruled Karnataka which is going to assembly polls next month.
The Basaveshwara statue installed at the Albert Embankment is not only the first statue to be unveiled by an Indian Prime Minister in the UK, but is also the first conceptual statue approved by the British Cabinet in the vicinity of the Parliament.
The approval was given as a mark of respect to Indian philosopher and social reformer Basaveshwara for promoting democratic ideals, social justice and gender equality.
Basaveshwara (1134-1168) was an Indian philosopher, social reformer and statesman who attempted to create a casteless society and fought against caste and religious discrimination.
India has recognised Basaveshwara as one of the pioneers of democracy and his statue was installed in the Indian Parliament during the tenure of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
India had also released a coin and a postal stamp as a mark of respect for Basaveshwara and his contribution to Indian society.
Modi is here on a four-day visit to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).