Udayavni Special

Senior Congress leader hits out at Siddaramaiah over Lingayat issue


Team Udayavani, Jul 29, 2019, 9:50 AM IST

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Bengaluru: Veteran Karnataka Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa on Sunday asserted Veerashaivas and Lingayats are two faces of the same coin and hit out at his party colleague and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, accusing him of having tried to divide the community in the past.

He was reacting to Siddaramaiah’s statement on Saturday that ‘Basava Dharma’ was an independent religion, which is neither inside nor outside of Hinduism.

“… Let’s not discuss those issues, we have been saying same thing since beginning that Veerashaiva and Lingayat are one, two faces of the same coin, we are following it,” Shivashankarappa, also the President of All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, said.

Speaking to reporters, he said, “let’s not try to break it, we are all united.”

Responding to a question about Siddaramaiah’s remarks, he said, “is Siddaramaiah a Lingayat? He has given his opinion, what can I do with it? He tried to divide it, but sidetracked as he could not…”

The Veerashaiva-Lingayat community that owes allegiance to the 12th century “social reform movement” initiated by Basaveshwara and has a substantial population in Karnataka, especially in the northern parts, has sided with the BJP.

The community was a divided house ahead of the2018 assembly polls amid a move by the then Congress government led by Siddaramaiah to accord “religious minority” status to the Lingayat faith.

The demand for a separate religion tag toVeerashaiva-Lingayat faiths had surfaced from the numerically strong and politically influential community, amid resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same.

While, one section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha had asserted that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same and religious status be given to them, the other group wanted it only for Lingayats as they believe Veerashaivas are one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.

Veerashaiva-Lingayats are estimated to form 17 per cent of the state’s population and considered to have a significant presence in about 140 out of total 224 assembly constituencies in the state and are decisive in about 90 seats. The separate religion tag move was said to be one of the reasons for the Congress loosing ground with respect to the community during the assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

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