Bengaluru, (DHNS): Close on the heels of the Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha demanding religion tag for Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, a forum of Lingayat leaders on Thursday came up with a counter demand - minority religion status for Lingayat dharma.
After a five-hour marathon meeting, a delegation comprising Lingayat pontiffs and some Cabinet rank ministers of the state hailing from the community, submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urging him to recommend to the Centre to accord Lingayats minority status.
However, out of six Lingayat ministers, two of them – S S Mallikarjun and Eshwar Khandre -- kept away from the meet. The duo are associated with Veerashiva Mahasabha.
“All religions in India are born in the context of Hindu culture. But there are key differences in ideology, practice, belief and tradition. That is why Lingayats should be declared a minority religion just like Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. This decision has been taken unanimously,” retired IAS officer Shivanand Jamdar told reporters.
The forum also resolved to seek a separate code for Lingayats in the 2021 population census.
Water Resources Minister M B Patil, who convened the meeting, was joined by his colleagues Basavaraj Rayareddy, Sharanprakash Patil and Vinay Kulkarni at the meet. JD(S) leader Basavaraj Horatti took part in the meeting, while the BJP had decided not to be part of it.
The saffron party is of the view that the ruling Congress is trying to divide the community on the issue of separate religion status.
Siddalinga Swami from Gadag’s Tontadarya Mutt, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharana from Chitradurga, Vijayamahanta Swami from Ilkal Chittaragi Mutt, Basa- valinga Swami from Bhalki, Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swami from Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peetha and Siddarama Mahaswami from Naganur Rudrakshi Mutt were prominent among the influential mutts represented at the meeting.
“We must draw inspiration from Jews, who built Israel in the midst of Arab countries,” Tontadarya Mutt seer Siddalinga Swami said.
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