Siddaramaiah may bite the bullet on Lingayat row at Cabinet meet on Monday

Tossing ball to Centre's court most likely among options before government

Siddaramaiah may bite the bullet on Lingayat row at Cabinet meet on Monday

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is determined to take a decision on the contentious Lingayat religion row, it is learnt. This despite coming under pressure from various quarters.

The report of an expert committee, which has recommended 'religious minority' status to Lingayats, is coming up for discussion before the Cabinet on March 19.

According to sources close to Siddaramaiah, he will consider two options when the matter comes up in the Cabinet: One, to recommend to the Centre to accord 'religious minority' status to Lingayats, confined to Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution, which will benefit Lingayat educational institutions.

The second option will come with some tweaking, which is to toss the ball over to the Centre's court, asking it to consider according 'religious minority' status to Lingayats, as recommended by the committee or to Veerashaiva-Lingayats as demanded by the Veerashaiva camp.

As it stands now, the Cabinet is split with Lingayat and Veerashaiva ministers taking opposite sides, the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha and Veerashaiva Mutt seers opposing the committee's report and lastly, Lingayat seers who want separate religion status to their faith. Add to this concerns raised by minority community leaders within the party, who fear that according 'minority' status to Lingayats would affect their interests.

"The issue has reached the point of no return and the most certain outcome will be to make a recommendation to the Centre," a source said. "Confining the recommendation of according minority status to Lingayats to Constitution Articles 29, 30, will address the concerns raised by minority leaders that their reservation and economic benefits may be affected."

Siddaramaiah may also recommend both Lingayat and Veerashaiva-Lingayat  for the 'minority' tag, especially after a delegation of Veerashaiva seers petitioned him.

Veerashaiva pontiffs representing the Guru, Virakta and Sharana traditions have warned Siddaramaiah that the Congress will face severe protests if the government decides to recommend 'religious minority' status for Lingayats.

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