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Why religious minority status for Lingayats has done less good and added more confusion

By Chennabasaveshwar

Ever since Karnataka CM recommended for separate religion status to Lingayats a sense of confusion is prevailing among the community. The decision by a government headed by a non-Lingayat leader from the Congress party- at a time the community is known to backing BJP- a month ahead of assembly elections has raised doubts in the minds of the dominant community of Karnataka.

Why religious minority status for Lingayats has done less good and added more confusion

Senior BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa, former chief minister of Karnataka is opposed to the separation between Lingayat and Veerashaiva communities. Yeddyurappa claims the Lingayats and Veerashaivas are one and the same community, both of which belong to Hinduism.

People who keep abreast of current affairs and the masses alike interpret and understand Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's move in their own capacity. Above all, the Lingayat seers call for support to the Congress in the elections has aroused curiosity amongst pundits and the people about the electoral gains to the grand old party.

A man who runs a tea-stall and his group of friends in Basava Kalyan, which holds historical significance for Lingayats, view the Congress government's move as "an attempt to divide the Lingayat community. And Siddaramaiah is a backward class (AHINDA) leader who cannot woo Lingayats by this move."

Coming to Bidar, where the first rally demanding independent religion took place in July 2017, a middle-aged who runs a restaurant in the city pointed what the issue of Lingayat movement is lacking.

He says, " The Lingayat rally in the city was politically backed, not spontaneous by common people. The issue is the creation of Lingayat seers and politicians." Further, he recalled the Mandal commission movement to his justify his understanding of public support to a cause."

About swamijis call to support Congress party in the elections, he says, "Only followers and disciples will listen to them, not voters."

Certainly, there is confusion among the community about the cultural differences between Lingayat and Veerashaiva communities and the differences between Lingayats with respect to Hindu religion.

Also, it is naive to expect immediate political dividends in the upcoming elections. In fact, candidate, his/her ability to win the election, his/her caste and money power play decisive roles in this election like previous elections.

Dr. Harish Ramaswamy, Professor of Political Science from Dharwad, explained the current scenario in which people are going through. He explains why there is confusion among common people regarding the issue.

"The discourse of Lingayat religion is happening at the intellectual level. At the ground level, the confusion prevails whether a person is Lingayat or Veerashaiva. Broadly, people proclaim themselves as Lingayat," Harish Ramaswamy said.

About the electoral gains, he said, "The idea of Congress to have a separate religion of Lingayats is not in terms of electoral gains, it is in terms of how the opinion transforms itself."

He asserted that the issue still is an intellectual debate. For instance, all the religions separated themselves with this kind of thinking initially, whether it is Jain or Sikh religions. "The ideas have to mature, originate, take a shape and later consolidation process takes place," he opined.

" Everybody knows it is a political decision. I personally think they (Congress) have taken a knee-jerk action to prove its commitment to the community."

Will the Lingayat community- the conglomeration 99 subcastes- go with Congress to return the favor? Will they consider it as a strategy to divide the community? or Will the Congress benefit from the confusion among Lingayats? Only the poll results will reveal the positive or negative effects of this big Lingayat gamble played by Siddaramaiah.

Karnataka Assembly Election dates
Date of notification April 17
Last date to file nominations April 24
Last date to withdraw nominations April 27
Date of polling May 12
Date of counting May 15

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