BJP to tap rift in Congress on Lingayat issue

Last Updated 21 October 2018, 21:09 IST

The Lingayat religion row has come back to haunt the Congress and the BJP is keen on tapping the differences over the issue in the grand old party to its advantage, specially in the Jamakhandi and Shimoga byelections.

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar last week said at a public meeting that the decision of the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government to declare the Lingayat faith as a minority religion was “a big mistake”.

The then chief minister Siddaramaiah, presently the chairman of the monitoring and coordination committee of the JD(S)-Congress coalition, has since rejected Shivakumar’s claim and said he had no regrets and it was a collective decision of the Cabinet.

After the Cabinet decision, the government wrote to the Centre to notify “Lingayat”, “Veerashaiva” and “those who believe in Basava tatva” as religious minority. The Centre is yet to take a decision.

According to BJP functionaries, the party will be going to the people during the bypolls “to expose the double standards” of the Congress on the issue and how it had mislead the people just for “vote bank politics”.

There are a substantial number of Lingayats in Shimoga Lok Sabha and Jamakhandi Assembly constituencies going to the bypolls. In Shimoga, BS Raghavendra of the BJP is facing Madhu Bangarappa of the JD(S), while in Jamakhandi, Anand Nyamagouda of the Congress is pitted against Srikanth Kulkarni of the BJP.

The bypolls to these seats, along with three other constituencies - Mandya and Bellary (both Lok Sabha) and Ramanagara (Assembly), are scheduled to be held on November 3.

The BJP, ahead of the Assembly polls in May, dillydallied on taking a stand on granting separate religion status to Lingayats, but later attacked the Congress for trying to divide the community for political gains.

(Published 21 October 2018, 17:47 IST)

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