A group of Lingayat seers on Sunday met Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and urged him to implement the report of an official committee that recommended conferring a spearate religious and minority status to their community.
The seers, led by Gadag-based Tontadarya Mutt's Siddalinga Swami, called on Siddaramaiah at his official residence here and wanted him to consider and implement the Nagmohan Das Committee's report which has said "Lingayats in Karnataka may be considered as religious minority."
"Our fight is not new, it has been a 900-year-old fight and it has taken a shape now. The Chief Minister should implement the report and accord separate status to Lingayat community," the Tontadarya math swamiji told reporters later.
The Karnataka Cabinet, which is meeting tomorrow, is expected to deliberate upon the matter as discussions in the last meeting on March 8 remained inconclusive, amidst reports of differences between Ministers belonging to both Veerashaiva and Lingayat faiths.
The demand for a separate religion tag to Veerashaiva/ Lingayat faiths has surfaced from the numerically strong and politically-influential community, amidst resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same.
While one section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha has demanded separate religion status, asserting that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same,the other wants it only for Lingayats as it believes that Veerashaivas are one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.
Lingayat leader Mate Mahadevi, who also spoke today, expressed confidence that Siddaramaiah would meet their demand and recommend to the Centre grant of separate religious status and minority status to their community.
The demand of Lingayat seers come a wee after Veerashaiva pontiffs had expressed their displeasure over the report as it excluded Veerashaivas.
They had also urged the government not to make any recommendation to the central government till the completion of assembly polls expected to be held soon and warned of an agitation.
A week after the expert committee submitted its report, ministers Eshwar Khandre and S S Mallikarjuna, son of veteran Congress leader and All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashankarappa, have asked Siddaramaiah to reject it.
The BJP and several sections of the Hindu community have maintained a cautious stance, keeping away from the move to give Veerashaiva/Lingayat separate religion status.
They have accused the Siddaramaiah government of dividing society to draw political mileage ahead of the assembly elections.
Lingayat strongman and state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa has been saying that his party would not allow efforts to "divide" the community.