As the BJP scored brownie points in the Mahadayi row, the Congress has decided to pour water on the party's efforts by raking up the Lingayat issue. Deliberations on the minority religion status to Lingayats have been expedited by the Congress government in Karnataka.
The Karnataka State Minorities Commission to which the issue had been referred has formed a seven member committee. The committee would be led by retired judge High Court judge, H Nagamohan Das. The committee would have to look into the issue and submit its report.
In a bid to gain brownie points over the issue, the committee has been told to expedite the process. It has been given a deadline of 4 to 6 weeks. It appears that Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah wants to make a major announcement on this issue before the model code of conduct sets in. If the committee recommends minority status for the Lingayats, then the CM is more or less likely to make the announcement before the elections.
There are five petitions that the committee would look into. There are three that demand a minority status for Lingayats while another argues that they are Hindus. The last petition by the Akhika Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha states that they are not Hindus, but demands a minority-religion tag for the Veerashaiva-Lingayats.
The committee comprises also includes the chairman of the Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission C S Dwarkanath; political scientist Muzaffar Assadi, head of the Kannada Language Chair at JNU Purushottam Bilimale, chairman of Kannada Development Authority S G Siddaramaiah and senior journalist Saraju Katkar.
The developments have evoked mixed reactions. While former bureaucrat S M Jamdar who is leading the Lingayat agitation has welcomed the move, others have termed it as political. M Thipanna the national vice-president of the Mahasabha felt that the move was political. The announcement comes close to the elections, he said while also asking if those part of the committee had any expertise on the subject.