Veerashaiva-Lingayat leaders of the Congress met Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Thursday and urged the government to recommend to the Centre to include their community in the OBC list.
The delegation comprised Home Minister M B Patil, Health Minister Shivanand Patil, veteran Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa, state Congress working president Eshwar Khandre and other leaders from the politically-dominant community.
“The Centre has recognised Veerashaiva-Lingayats of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu among other backward classes (OBCs). This is a big injustice to the community in Karnataka,” the petition submitted to the chief minister stated.
This comes after the leaders huddled on Wednesday to discuss ways to strengthen the community socially and politically. The community was a divided house ahead of the Assembly elections last year, thanks to the previous Congress government’s decision to accord ‘religious minority’ status to the Lingayat faith. This caused a rift within the Congress between one group that identified itself as Veerashaiva-Lingayat and another that argued that Veerashaiva and Lingayat were not the same.
The Congress went on to lose the Assembly polls, and the Lingayat issue is widely believed to be one of the prime reasons for the loss. The meeting on Wednesday was seen as an attempt to put up a show of unity and strength.
The delegation also demanded setting up a Veerashaiva-Lingayat Development Corporation for financial and educational upliftment of the community. Karnataka already has the Devaraj Urs Backward Classes, Valmiki, Vishwakarma, Uppara, Arya Vysya Development Corporation and Brahmin Development Corporations, the petition pointed out.