No separate religious status for Lingayats: Centre informs Karnataka High court

Additional Solicitor General(ASG) Prabhling Navadegi informed the division bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice S Sujatha that central government has already notified Karnataka Government about the decision.

Central Government has informed Karnataka High Court, that recommendation to provide separate religion tag to Lingayat sect is discarded. Following which, Karnataka High court also dismissed the Public Interest Litigations challenging Karnataka State Minority Commission’s move to constitute a panel to look into the separate religious minority status to Lingayats.

Additional Solicitor General(ASG) Prabhling Navadegi informed the division bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice S Sujatha that central government has already notified Karnataka Government about the decision.

Veerashaiva or Lingayat is a prominent caste group which controls huge stakes in Karnataka’s electoral politics along with Vokkaligas in the state. In a bid to woo these communities during this year’s assembly elections in Karnataka, in March Siddaramaiah government had taken an extreme step of creating a divide among Hindus by recommending a separate religion tag to ‘Lingayat’ community ahead of the elections.

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However, despite this move Congress had to face a debacle in Karnataka polls.  The Congress party secured 78 seats, JDS-37 seats, while BJP became the single largest party with 104 seats. The Vokkaliga and Lingayats, who make up a significant percentage of the overall population of Karnataka, had emphatically voted for non-Congress parties.

After elections, Karnataka Minister and party strongman DK Shivakumar openly revealed that the previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah made a grave mistake by trying to divide people by raking up the Lingayat issue.

“We have committed a grave mistake during our tenure. Any government at any juncture should not politicise religion or interfere in its matters. There were a lot of political developments happening then but no government must intervene in matters of religion. Recently concluded events have reflected the people’s sentiments on this matter”, DK Shivakumar had asserted.

ASG placed before the court the communication sent to Karnataka government. In the letter, the centre had said that Lingaytas are classified under Hindus since 1871 census. To accord religious status to Lingaytas and Veerashaivas, a separate religious tag would deprive them of reservation under SC/ST act.


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