Most voices from the community have openly expressed support, so much so that even after a personal visit by BJP president Amit Shah, one senior pontiff gave him a suggestion that the centre must support the Karnataka government's move.
Chitrudurga's Shri Muruga Math is one of the five biggest monasteries of the Lingayat sect. On Tuesday, BJP chief Amit Shah had visited Chitradurga, on the second day of his mutt-hopping tour in the state.
Soon afterwards, the math's head, Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, revealed a letter he has given to the BJP chief, endorsing the Congress government move to accord minority religion status to the community.
The Congress move, the letter said, is not a step to divide the society but a measure to unite the already sub-divided sub castes followers in Lingayats. It would also benefit the young people of the community. Religious minority status provides a community with government grants and other advantages in education.
The letter also addressed the present controversy between Lingayat and Veerashaiva - both sects that follow the Lord Shiva - saying it is temporary and just a result of emotions.
BS Yeddyurappa, the BJP's tallest Lingayat leader in the state, who is also the party's Chief Ministerial candidate, refused to acknowledge what was seen as a political embarrassment.
Mr Yeddyurappa had earlier sought religious minority status for the community, but has now endorsed the BJP line that it is a move to divide the Hindus.
The seer's support has come as huge shot in the arm for the Congress, which has threatened to go to the Supreme Court if the centre refuses to accept the state government's recommendation.
State minister MB Patil, who is also a Lingayat leader, said, "Muruga mutt seer has spoken the right thing. What's wrong with that? This is not related to elections. This is our identity."
Questioning the stance of Amit Shah, he said the BJP chief belongs to the Jain community, which has an independent religion status. "Was the Hindus divided? Amit Shah wants it for his own religion but when it comes to us, it is dividing the Hindus," he said.
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