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Karnataka’s moment of reckoning is here

The Lingayat – Veerashaiva issue in Karnataka is the scandal of 2018. The ramifications are deep and severe – be it in the realm of politics or for the society in general. 2018 state elections may just witness one part of it. If the Central government approves the recommendation by the Siddaramaiah government, the Hindu backbone is effectively broken. Here’s why:

Definition of “Minority”:

It is general understanding, though people may disagree with the degree, that Congress is the party for minorities. Some people consider only Muslims to be minorities, some consider Christians, and the interpretation varies. By pushing the Lingayat – Veerashaivas into the minority category, the Congress wants to effectively usurp the core vote bank for the BJP. Let’s say in 2024, god forbid, if Rajdeep Sardesai analyzes Karnataka politics – he will shamelessly include Lingayat – Veerashaiva with Muslims. Though both groups have no common political interests today or maybe even in 2024. This will re-define the narrative and include Lingayats in the Congress vote bank.

Breakdown of Temples:

One of the key observations made by the Siddaramaiah government is that Lingayats – Veerashaivas (L-Vs) are not Hindus. In Mumbai-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka regions, Lingayat – Veerashaiva is a big chunk of the population and are devotees of various important temples like Mantralaya, Shrishaila and Tirupati in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Likewise, there are various Mathas that are important in Karnataka. By declaring Lingayat – Veerashaiva as non-Hindus, they will now be gradually ostracized by various temple management. This will lead to building more and more temples and places of worship for this new religion. The Congress party that always had an eye to loot the donations from temples, will now have a field day. This will result in the Congress lackeys having more and more say in these new places of worship. So another avenue for Congress to loot donations given by “bhakts” to the temples.

New Seers:

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It is common knowledge that one small section of seers belonging to the Lingayat community supports the decision taken by the Siddaramaiah government. If approved by the Centre, these seers who now have a respectable position will become the “numero uno” within the new religion. If this proposal is rejected, they end up being nowhere. So, it is in their interests to fan emotions and ensure unrest with regards to this issue. Smart political management will be vital, in case BJP returns to power in the state.

Short-Term Politics:

Apart from Siddaramaiah, a couple of Congress MLAs are said to have a big hand in this decision: Vinay Kulkarni and M B Patil. These MLAs were elected in the Lingayat – Veerashaiva dominated areas in 2013, primarily due to vote split by the erstwhile KJP. Now with BS Yeddyurappa back in the BJP fold, these Congress MLAs are in vulnerable position for re-election. By engineering this split, they and many Congress MLAs in the Mumbai-Karnataka region are trying to break the Lingayat – Veerashaiva unity and support for BJP.

The initial response and observations on the social media give an indication that majority of people are against this move by the Siddaramaiah government.

By the looks of it, BJP has only one option in this situation. PM Narendra Modi must go to North Karnataka during the campaign season and effectively do a Rahul Gandhi – tear up the document given the Karnataka government in full public view and vouch for the unity of Lingayat – Veerashaiva people and re-affirm that they are Hindus. Of course, that is an ideal scenario, which we can no longer expect from the statesman Modi. But, any indulgence or tinkering with this decision will signal the end of BJP in the short term.

The tragedy of our times is that in its effort to fight BJP and ensure its own survival, Congress has taken the “secular” word too seriously. To such an extent that they are trying to create and push more and more people into the secular category. One must not mistake it to be a political gimmick. A well thought out plan is in the works. This has the bearings of long-term gains for the Congress party and its secular allies. It must be seen if India will entertain such machinations to ensure the return of the Gandhi clan.

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