It is Lingayats v/s BJP and RSS in fight for separate religious status now
The absence of prominent Lingayat community leaders from the BJP during a massive community rally has officially made the fight Lingayats v/s BJP and RSS. While leaders of the community from Congress and JD(S) participated in the Belagavi rally, the BJP shied away allowing Lingayat seers and leaders to lambast the party as well as its ideological head, the RSS.
Seers from the community lashed out at RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat asking him to 'back off'. Mohan Bhagwat in specific and the RSS and BJP, in general, were attacked continuously making it evident that the movement for a separate religious status for Lingayats will dent the party's prospects in the 2018 assembly elections in Karnataka.
"Mohan Bhagwat is derailing the Lingayat movement for separate religious status. How can Lingayats and Hindus be the same when our ideologies are so different. Hindus discriminate on the basis of caste, gender and class, Lingayats don't," Siddalinga Swamy of Gadag Tontadarya Mutt told a massive gathering.
Mathe Mahadevi, the woman seer who sparked off the agitation for a separate religious tag for Lingayats launched a no-holds bar attack on the BJP. The absence of a prominent Lingayat leader like B S Yeddyurappa irked the community leaders. In fact, Yeddyurappa relied on the massive Lingayat wave to win the assembly elections previously.
"You will all be buried as per Lingayat customs after you die and not according to BJP's customs. All BJP leaders, who are not part of this movement, should realise that they are given party tickets under Lingayat quota," she lashed out at BJP leaders.
BJP is in a catch-22 situation
The BJP, that heavily relied on its Lingayat voters, is now in a spot. Supporting the movement means losing votes of Veerashaivas and other Hindu voters and opposing it means losing the favour of Lingayat vote bank. "We believe that the Lingayat movement for separate religious status is a political ploy by the Congress. We will not interfere in the matter and think that it is for the community leaders to decide," Amit Shah had said during his visit to Karnataka earlier this month.
With nothing going in its favour, the BJP has decided to stay away from the movement but that seems to only worsen the situation for them as election approaches.
"Lingayat and Veerashaiva seers should come together to drop the demand for a separate religious tag in the interest of strengthening Hinduism," RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said. This statement became the centre point of debate during the rally on Tuesday.