The Karnataka government on Monday agreed to consider the Lingayats as a separate religion, seeking the support of the powerful Hindu community ahead of assembly elections this year.
“Based on the recommendations of Karnataka State Minorities Commission, the state cabinet has unanimously decided to grant status of religious minority to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats (believers of 12th century social reformer Basava’s ideologies),” state law minister TB Jayachandra told media after a cabinet meeting.
The state cabinet has also decided to forward the commission’s recommendations to the Central government for approval and notification under the National Commission for Minorities Act, he said.
“The minority status has been granted on the Commission’s view that a proper recognition is to be given to the Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, on condition that the recognition would not affect the rights of other minorities in the state,” Jayachandra was quoted by IANS as saying.
Lingayats form 16% of the state’s population and trace their lineage to 12th century philosopher Basavanna. Demands for recognising Lingayats as a separate religion got a fillip after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced in 2017 he would make a recommendation to the Centre do so if it was a unanimous demand of the community.
Siddaramaiah’s statement queered the pitch for BS Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat leader and the BJP’s chief ministerial face for the state polls.
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Source : http://hindustantimes.com