Amit Shah dials BSY, Lingayat OBC plan put on hold

Apparently, Yediyurappa expressed his ire over the BJP central leadership on cabinet expansion
Last Updated 27 November 2020, 09:45 IST

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Friday agreed to defer a decision on including the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community in the central OBC list under pressure from his own Cabinet colleagues who warned against moving hurriedly on this subject.

But the prospect of such a huge decision was enough to get the attention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who spoke with Yediyurappa over phone early in the morning.

“Due to various reasons, a decision on Veerashaiva-Lingayats will be taken after I visit Delhi to discuss this. Even my Cabinet colleagues are of this view. This will be a special decision that will need discussion,” Yediyurappa told reporters before the Cabinet meeting.

Asked about his Cabinet expansion, Yediyurappa said: “It’ll happen in 2-3 days. I just spoke to Amit Shah. They will send (the list of new ministers).”

It is said that Shah told Yediyurappa that the proposal to recommend OBC status for Veerashaiva-Lingayats would need discussion within the party before any decision is made. Apparently, Yediyurappa expressed his ire over the BJP central leadership dragging its feet on approving the expansion of his Cabinet, saying the delay was undermining the chief minister’s office.

At present, Veerashaiva-Lingayats are considered backward class in Karnataka and come under Category 3B with a 5% reservation based on income. Their inclusion as OBC in the central list will give them space in 27% reservation in Central government services and Central educational institutions.

This move was politically loaded with ramifications, especially for Yediyurappa amid buzz that he could be replaced. It is believed that this would have further consolidated Yediyurappa’s standing within the community that is estimated to form about 16% of the state's population.

Briefing reporters, Law Minister JC Madhuswamy that Yediyurappa was convinced that the government should go slow on this.

“At present, only 16 sub-castes of Veerashaiva-Lingayats are considered OBC in the central list, which is wrong. There are sub-castes in other major communities that have been left out, such as Kunchitigas among Vokkaligas. So, we told that CM that we should move a holistic proposal to recommend central OBC status for all such communities that have been left out,” Madhuswamy explained.

“We will ask for anthropological studies and certification of backwardness of all such communities that are seen as forward, but are actually backward,” he said.

Inclusion of any community in the central OBC list will require a formal proposal from the state government to the National Commission for Backward Classes, Madhuswamy pointed out.

He also defended the timing of the proposal being brought before the Cabinet. “Since 1994, when only 16 sub-groups of the Veerashaiva-Lingayats were considered as OBC in the central list, there have been efforts to get the entire community to be seen as backward. We’re just asking for a share in the central quota for this community. Why is it being treated as a national crime?”

Of late, Yediyurappa has been bullish on community-specific measures while showing a sense of urgency in making political appointments to state-run companies. He ordered the establishment of the Maratha Development Corporation, following it up with the Veerashaiva-Lingayat Development Corporation. All these moves were superimposed with talks of his replacement.

(Published 27 November 2020, 09:45 IST)

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