Karnataka Cabinet's Decision On Lingayats Divisive: BJP

Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, who worship Shiva, together constitute the largest community - 17 per cent - in the southern state, and their votes could influence the outcome of the upcoming state assembly polls in April-May.

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Karnataka Cabinet's Decision On Lingayats Divisive: BJP

BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje accused Siddaramaiah of vote-bank politics. (File photo)

Bengaluru:  The Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP has called the Karnataka's Congress government decision on Monday to recognise the Hindu sects of Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats as separate religion an attempt to "divide the Hindu society".

The party's Lok Sabha member Shobha Karandlaje, tweeted: "Kannadigas (people of Karnataka) will never forgive you Siddaramaiah for your intention of dividing the Hindu society. For cheap vote bank politics, you are playing a dirty game. You cheated the whole community by dividing the leaders and Swamijis of Karnataka."

By granting a separate religion status, the ruling Congress was asking Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, who believe in 12th century social reformer Basava's ideologies, to not follow Hinduism, she alleged.

"Based on the recommendations of Karnataka State Minorities Commission, the state cabinet has unanimously decided to grant status of religious minority to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats," Karnataka Law Minister TB Jayachandra said. 

Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, who worship Shiva, together constitute the largest community - 17 per cent - in the southern state, and their votes could influence the outcome of the upcoming state assembly polls in April-May. 

The BJP, whose chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa is a Lingayat, is widely seen to have influence in the community which the ruling Congress is seeking to woo.

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Prior to the cabinet meet held here, a group of Lingayat seers from across the state had met the chief minister urging him to grant the religious status to them.

"We are extremely grateful to the cabinet for considering the Commission's recommendations," the seers told reporters after the government's decision.

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