MHA refers Lingayat issue to minorities affairs ministry

The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday virtually washed its hands of the issue of granting religious minority status for the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community in Karnataka saying the issue is beyond its jurisdiction and the Ministry of Minorities Affairs would look into it.

An MHA spokesperson also said a decision on the issue is not expected anytime soon as the model code of conduct has been in force in Karnataka, where Assembly election is due next month.

The ministry has received a communication from the Karnataka government
recommending grant of religious minority status for the numerically strong community.

'Beyond jurisdiction'

"However, the subject is beyond the jurisdiction of the MHA and hence forwarded to the Ministry of the Minorities Affairs, which is the competent authority to take a decision on it," the spokesperson told reporters here.

Asked whether the MHA has given any opinion on the recommendation of the Karnataka government before forwarding it to the Ministry of the Minorities Affairs, the spokesperson said the question does not arise as it was not an issue to be examined by the MHA.

"Examination, consideration and decision on the subject will be done by the Ministry of the Minorities Affairs," he said.

In a decision fraught with political implications in
poll-bound Karnataka, the state government had last month decided to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority tag for the numerically strong Lingayat and
Veerashaiva Lingayat community.

Lingayats/Veerashaivas, estimated to form 17 per cent of the state's population, are considered the BJP's traditional voter base.

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