With the demand for 'religious minority status' by the Lingayat community in Karnataka gaining momentum yet again, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Sunday said they were not in favour of such a demand.
The fight for separate religious status to the community has turned into a political controversy considering that Lingayats form a sizeable vote bank in Karnataka. The Lingayat community has been spearheading a movement for separate religious status distinct from 'Veerashaiva' and Hindu religion as well.
While speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Nagpur on Sunday, RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi was asked about a demand for a minority religion status for the Lingayat community in Karnataka.
"Hum isko sweekaar nahi karte. Bharat mein sampradaay alag ho sakte hain jinko humne sweekaar kiya. Parantu Bharat mein nirmaan huye sabhi panth/sampradaay ki moolbhoot baatein samaan hain jinke aadhaar par upar ke bhedbhaav ko door karna chahiye (We do not support it. There can different customs in India but the basis of all the customs/ sects that originated in India are same. Fundamentals of all sects are same, any attempts to create differences is not acceptable," Joshi said in his response to the issue.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had last year asked both Veerashaivas and Lingayats to come together with a request for separate religious status during a felicitation organized by Akhil Bharath Veerashaiva Mahasabha. On the other hand, BJP's national president Amit Shah had then said the demand for separate religious status for the dominant 'Lingayat' community in Karnataka is a political game being played by CM Siddaramaiah.
Veerashaiva Mahasabha considers Lingayat as part of Veerashaiva Sect. But, Lingayat swamijis do not consider themselves as part of either Veerashaiva or Hinduism. In November 2017, prominent Lingayat leader Mathe Mahadevi put forth five demands along with setting a deadline for the Siddaramaiah government as part of the community's fight for a separate religious tag.
The previous B S Yeddyurappa-led BJP government came to power riding high on the Lingayat support. This time around, the internal squabble over separate religious tag within the community is likely to dent the BJP's prospects in terms of 'undivided' vote share from the community.