BJP may give 'anti-Hindu' spin to Congress googly on Lingayat issue

The state BJP is planning to tread cautiously and adopt a wait-and-watch approach on the issue of according religious minority tag for Lingayats as the matter can have huge political implications in the elections.

The party is waiting for clarity on the issue, especially on the stand the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha and various mutts take, before deciding on its next step.

The BJP is hoping that the government's move faces opposition from various quarters and is then planning to go for the kill, accusing the Siddaramaiah government of being "anti-Hindu." The Lingayat community, constituting an estimated 17% of the population, can impact 100 seats in the 224-member Assembly. The community has traditionally supported the BJP.  

The Cabinet on Monday accepted the recommendation of an expert panel to accord minority status to the "Lingayat, Veerashaiva-Lingayat (believers of Basava philosophy)" faith. The BJP is also waiting to see how the government notifies the status under Section 2(d) of the Karnataka State Minorities Act, 1994. The party is waiting for the wordings of the notification - whether the words Lingayats, Veerashaiva-Lingayats, Basava tatva are used, sources said.

Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashankarappa, on Tuesday, objected to the inclusion of the term Basava tatva, while according Lingayat status and dubbed the government's decision as the height of injustice.

BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru that the Mahasabha should convene a meeting of Mutt seers, community leaders and take a call on the government's decision. "This is a clever move by Siddaramaiah. It has to be discussed among community leaders and office- bearers of the Mahasabha," he said. The Mahasabha has convened a meeting in Bengaluru on March 23 to discuss the government's decision.

According to BJP sources, the government's move is sure to backfire as the community by and large views it as a poll gimmick. "We have already charged the Congress with trying to take over temples and mutts, repeatedly taking anti-Hindu stances. Besides, the Lingayats will get no reservation benefits under the 4% minority quota. We will hit the streets, accusing the Congress party of trying to divide the Hindu society," a senior party functionary said.

Yeddyurappa's residence at Dollars' Colony was a beehive of activity on Tuesday. Hampi Mutt seer Dayanandapuri Swami, Lingayat leader Revannasiddappa and Veerashaiva community leader Prasanna called on Yeddyurappa.

 

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