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A new religion rises: Lingayat gets separate religion status, Congress trump card ahead of Karnataka polls

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 19, Mar 2018, 18:13 pm IST | UPDATED: 19, Mar 2018, 18:19 pm IST

A new religion rises: Lingayat gets separate religion status, Congress trump card ahead of Karnataka polls Bengaluru: The Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government on Monday accepted the suggestions of Nagamohan Das committee to form a separate religion status of the Lingayats community. The decision came just a few months before the state assembly elections.

The suggestion which has been accepted under section 2D of the state Minorities Commission Act will now be sent to the Centre for the final approval. With his eye on 2018, Siddaramaiah is desperate to enter the good books of the Lingayats.

A seven-member Nagamohan Das committee headed by retired high court Judge H N Nagamohan Das submitted its report on March 2, 2018, stating that "Lingayats in Karnataka may be considered as a religious minority."

The Lingayats also known as the Veerashaiva community owes loyalty to the social reform movement of the 12th century initiated by Basaveshwara has a considerable population in the northern part of the Karnataka.

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.

Here's what you must know

1. A group of Lingayat seers on Monday met Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and urged him to implement the report of an official committee that recommended conferring a separate 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."

2. Lingayat's 900-year-old fight "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.

3. Senior BJP leader BS Yedyurappa, former chief minister of Karnataka and a Lingayat who came to power on the back of this vote bank in 2008, is opposed to the separation between these two communities.

Having publicly participated in Vedic rituals and being an upholder of his party's aggressive Hindutva line, Yedyurappa claims the Lingayats and Veerashaivas are one and the same community, both of which belong to Hinduism.

4. 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 Veerashaivasare one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part ofHinduism.

5. 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.

6. Karnataka govt expedited the deliberations over minority religion status to Lingayats in July 2017 The Karnataka State Minorities Commission (KSMC), to which the State government had referred the Lingayat issue a week ago, has formed a seven-member committee, led by retired high court judge H. N. Nagamohan Das, to look into the issue and submit a report.

7. On 18 July, more than 50,000 Lingayats gathered at a rally in Bidar, asking to be recognised as followers of a religion distinct from Hinduism. While there are conflicting theological justifications for this demand, should it come to pass, it would throw the political equations in the state into serious disarray.

8. Who are the Lingayats? The Lingayats are the worshippers of Lord Shiva who have distanced themselves from traditional Hinduism, especially from the Vedic version of it and the caste system. Ironically, in spite of its origin among the followers of 12th-century social reformer Basavanna, the Lingayat community is now recognised as a caste.

9. Karnataka election significance Living mostly in North Karnataka, the Lingayats are believed to constitute 17% of the population.

10. Even as demand for a separate religion status has emerged from within the dominant community, there is also resentment on the ground against treating both Lingayats and the Veerashaiva community as the same. Veerashaiva seers are not happy with the Nagamohan committee report as it excluded their community members. Veerashaivas had urged Karnataka government to refrain from making recommendation to the Centre in the matter before the completion of Assembly elections in the state.

11. According to PTI, Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha, which considers both Lingayats and Veerashaivas as the same, is demanding separate status for the community. However, there is another group that demands separate religion status only for the Lingayats and they consider Veerashaivas as Hindus.
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