Now, Mahasabha may seek OBC status for Veerashaiva-Lingayats

Now, Mahasabha may seek OBC status for Veerashaiva-Lingayats

 Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, DH file photo

The influential Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha has changed its track and now wants to press for the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community to be recognised as Other Backward Class (OBC) at the national level.

This is a proposal the Veerashaiva Mahasabha is likely to moot even as ground is being prepared for it to hold peace talks with its rival camp, the Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha. The Lingayat camp had spearheaded the demand for the Lingayat faith to be given ‘religious minority’ status, which the previous Siddaramaiah government heeded to and which is now pending before the Centre.

“Minority status is misleading in that it will largely benefit only educational institutions with little for the common man to cheer about. Reservation benefits are much more if we get OBC status. This is our proposal,” Veerashaiva Mahasabha vice-president B S Sachidananda Murthy said.

At present, Veerashaiva-Lingayats are considered backward class and come under Category 3B with a 5% reservation.

Their inclusion as OBC in the Central list will mean 27% reservation in Central government services and Central educational institutions. “Only some sub-castes of Veerashaiva-Lingayats come under the Central OBC list at present,” scholar Basavaraj P Donur said.

The Veerashaiva camp, headed by senior Congressman and Veerashaiva Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashankarappa, had opposed the separate religion tag for the Lingayat faith, calling for Veerashaivas and Lingayats to unite to get the state government to recommend ‘religious minority’ status for Veerashaiva-Lingayats.

Both Veerashaiva and Lingayat camps are now willing to hold talks, but this is subject to the three conditions the Lingayat Mahasabha has set.

The first condition is that the Veerashaivas should accept Basava Tatva and acknowledge Basavanna as the founder of the faith. Second, they should change the name to Akhila Bharata Lingayat Mahasabha. Third, they should induct Lingayat leaders M B Patil and Basavaraj Horatti as office bearers. “The first two conditions are non-negotiable,” Lingayat Mahasabha leader S M Jaamdar asserted.

Shivashankarappa said the Veerashaiva Mahasabha would meet next week to discuss internally the terms of its engagement with the Lingayat camp. “But, there can’t be conditions. We will meet our office-bearers and ask their opinion,” he said.

The apparent division within the community - Lingayats taking on the Veerashaivas - is widely believed to have contributed to the Congress’ defeat in the recent Assembly polls. However, the Lingayat Mahasabha refuted this notion by placing advertisements in leading dailies last week.