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Lingayat issue: Don’t be a mute spectator - Patil

Home Minister M B Patil on Saturday asked the Election Commission to act against BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa for raking up the controversial “separate Lingayat religion” issue.

Patil took serious exception to Yeddyurappa’s statement claiming that Patil had written a letter to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on orchestrating the Lingayat issue.

“Please take cognizance of the statement. Please treat this as urgent and important. It is contempt of ECI. Will you be a mute spectator?” Patil said in a tweet to the office of the chief electoral officer.

Patil was the face of a movement demanding religious minority status for Lingayat faith - that gained momentum in the run up to the Assembly polls last year. However, the previous Congress government’s decision to declare Lingayats and Veerashaiva-Lingayats who follow Basavanna’s principles as a ‘religious minority’ is widely believed to have been a prime reason for the party’s defeat.

He also hit out at Yeddyurappa, who is arguably the BJP’s tallest Lingayat leader. “Whole Karnataka knows even you & your leadership wanted a separate Lingayat religion.
FYI, you only endorsed for the separate religion tag in 2013. How can you forget? It’s not fair for a senior leader like you to lie blatantly, succumbing to pressure within your party,” Patil tweeted.

Earlier this week, Patil moved the Election Commission against a Kannada daily that published a “fake” letter he purportedly wrote to Sonia Gandhi in 2017 on the Lingayat religion issue. The BJP is seemingly capitalising on this issue just ahead of the second phase of polling on April 23 for 14 seats in the Lingayat-dominated North Karnataka.

“The office of the chief electoral officer has said that the above issue violates model code of conduct, yet you’re making baseless allegations which doesn’t bring honor...do not forget that you are a former chief minister and do talk sensible things,” Patil told Yeddyurappa.

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