Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy today said the Central government should confer the Bharat Ratna on Tumakuru Siddaganga mutt's 111-year-old pontiff Shivakumara Swami.
"I had recommended Bharat Ratna for Swami in 2006 itself for his good work. If necessary, we will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grant the award to Swami," Mr Kumaraswamy told media.
The Swami, who has been in and out of hospitals lately due to advanced age, is currently being treated at the Siddaganga mutt in Tumakuru, about 70 km northwest of Bengaluru.
Known among his followers as a walking god and an incarnation of 12th century social reformer Basava, the Lingayat seer is also the head of the Sree Siddaganga Education Society which runs about 125 educational institutions in the state -- from engineering colleges to business schools.
Mr Kumaraswamy said he had recommended the Swami's name to the Central government for the highest civilian award 13 years ago when he was the Chief Minister heading the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S)-BJP coalition.
The BJP's state unit president BS Yeddyurappa also said that the party would request the Prime Minister to confer the award on the seer.
"His Holiness Shivakumara Swami is a remarkable personality and has positively impacted crores of lives through his outstanding service. The entire nation is praying for his speedy recovery and good health," PM Modi had tweeted earlier.
Thousands of followers and students have gathered outside the mutt in Tumakuru, praying for the pontiff's health.