Bengaluru: Just days after the Karnataka government accepted the recommendation to recognise the Lingayat as a separate religion, the community was given minority status on Friday. Ignoring criticism from various political and religious sections, the Siddaramaiah government went ahead with its decision - one that was applauded by members of the Lingayat community.
Friday's decision, much like the decision on Monday, was received with both joy and dismay. While Lingayat community members rejoiced, the move was slammed by All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha which has accused the state government of playing politics ahead of elections in the state scheduled for early May. It maintains that Veerashaiva and Lingayat are the same and creating a forced divide is 'height of injustice' and only serves selfish political purposes.
The demand for a separate religion tag to Veerashaiva/ Lingayat faiths has surfaced from the numerically strong and politically-influential community, amidst resentment from within over projecting the two communities as the same.
While one section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha has demanded separate religion status, asserting that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same, the other wants it only for Lingayats as it believes that Veerashaivas are one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and several sections of the Hindu community have maintained a cautious stance, keeping away from the move to give Veerashaiva/Lingayat separate religion status.