Lingayat Seer Sri Vachananda Swami, notorious for warning Lingayat strongman BS Yediyurappa, on stage at a function, of losing his Lingayat clout and pushing him for a cabinet expansion when Mr Yediyurappa was a Chief Minister, has again stoked controversy by reminding current Chief Minister BS Bommai that the ultimatum given by the Panchamasali Lingayat community (a sub-sect of Veerashaiva-Lingayats) demanding a hike in reservation status is nearing the deadline of December 19.
Indicating that Mr Bommai is sitting on a 'time bomb', the Lingayat seer at the Panchamasali convention event in Gadag district of Karnataka said, "By December 19, during the winter session, the Panchamasali community should be provided reservation under 2A of OBC quota, based on the report of the Karnataka Backward Classes Commission. There will be no compromise with this. When BS Yediyurappa was the Chief Minister, we had questioned him on increasing the reservation status for the community. When he got out of his chair, it gave the Panchamsali community the much-needed fillip."
The BJP government in Karnataka has been flooded with corruption allegations lately. Mr Bommai, who sensed he is facing strong anti-incumbency, immediately made a calculated move just ahead of the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections to increase the Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe quota above the 50 percent reservation ceiling fixed by the Supreme Court. Mr Bommai hiked the reservation quota for the SC community from 12 percent to 17 percent and for the ST community from 3 percent to 7 percent, taking the total reservation status to 56 percent -- a move by the BJP to appease the backward classes ahead of the state polls in 2023.
However, this move has now put the BS Bommai government in a tight spot with the Panchamasali Lingayats, and Vokkaligas -- the two dominant communities that greatly affect poll outcomes in the state -- demanding a hike in reservation.
Panchamasali Lingayats, who are a traditional vote bank for the BJP, have been demanding a hike in their reservation to nearly 15 percent, from the current 5 per cent.
Not only has the Lingayat community, that commands nearly 17 percent of the population, demanded for a hike in reservation, but the Vokkaliga community, which is the traditional vote bank of the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress, and also the other dominant community that constitutes about 15 percent of the state's population, has demanded a hike in quota from 4 percent to 12 per cent.