Hubballi: Responding to BJP president Amit Shah’s promise to Veerashaiva seers that his party would not allow division of the community, prominent Lingayat seers have decided to hold a meeting in Bengaluru on April 7 to discuss taking a delegation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chalk out a strategy to bring pressure on him to accord independent religious status to the community. They are also weighing all options, including fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court if their demand is rejected by the Centre.
Describing Mr Shah’s speech in Shivayogi Mandir, Bagalkot district, as a violation of poll code, JD(S) leader Basavaraj Horatti claimed that the BJP president and Veerashaiva seers were out to con the people as political leaders were not expected to give statements on such issues with elections round the corner. Questioning the authority of Mr Shah to deny minority tag to Lingayats when only the Union government could decide on this, Mr Horatti was critical of his “interference” in the issue when his Jain community had managed to get independent religion status.
“Mr Shah’s promise to Veerashaiva seers is a poll gimmick. The religious heads will take a decision on seeking action against him in their meeting on Saturday. Lingayats have more powerful evidence to seek separate religion status than the Jains. We will move the Supreme Court if the Centre rejects our demand,” Mr Horatti said. Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swami of Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peetha accused Mr Shah of trying to create confusion among the people and explained that the Lingayats were not abandoning Hinduism which was a way of life, but only seeking a minority tag to get government benefits.
Mines and Geology Minister Vinay Kulkarni said he was confident that the Lingayats would vote for the Congress as they owed CM Siddaramaiah for backing their demand. “We should appreciate the courage of our CM in deciding to send a plea for a minority tag for Lingayats despite opposition from Veerashaivas during poll time. We will demand that the Congress high command give over 40 tickets to Lingayats in the elections as all 99 sub-castes are united in voting for the party,” he said.
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