Lingayats in Karnataka have now demanded 'religious minority status'. Pontiffs of over 20 Lingayat mutts, their followers including politicians took part in a grand meeting on Thursday where the decision to demand religious minority status was taken.
The seers also asked Veerashaivas not to use faith, vachanas or practices of the Lingayats. The sabha also urged that any seer unwilling to preach the word of Basavanna but calls themselves the representative of Lingayats should vacate from their positions in mutts. The Mahasabha was organised at Bengaluru's Jnana Jyothi Auditorium. Soon after the meeting, a delegation of Lingayat leaders met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to put forth their demands.
"They have submitted a petition and the government will look into it. The petition will be reviewed from religious, constitutional and legal perspectives. Depending on the review, we will let the community know of the government's decision," said Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
Congress leaders M B Patil, Basavaraj Raya Reddy, Vinay Kumar Kulkarni and Muragha mutt seer Shivamurthy Shivacharya Swamiji led more than 50 seers to meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday evening.
The delegation submitted a petition seeking not just separate religious status to Lingayats but urged the government to issue a notification declaring them religious minorities. The petition urged the state government to push for the notification by the Centre.
"We have been assured by the Chief Minister that a special committee will be set up to see if there are differences between Veerashaivas and Lingayats. If there is, then the committee will probe these differences and make suggestions on whether it would be possible to grant a religious minority status to Lingayats," said Jamdar, a retired IAS officer.