The former Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa. Photograph:( Others )
Amid the Lingayat storm brewing in Karnataka, the BJP is trying to corner the ruling Congress government for clearing separate religion status for the community.
But documents accessed by WION show that the BJP could face trouble for raising a similar demand way back in 2013.
The letter, signed by BS Yeddyurappa, asking for a separate Lingayat religion. (WION Web Team)
The demand was sent to the UPA government at the Centre by many Karnataka leaders cutting across party lines, including BS Yeddyurappa, the tallest BJP leader in the state who belongs to the Lingayat community.
Yeddyurappa had then broken away from the BJP to form its own party.
However, Union minister Ananth Kumar said the Congress government had rejected the demand made in 2013. "Several demands were made in the past and even the Maharashtra government had also sought a separate religion tag for Veerashiva-Lingayat sect. But the then UPA government in 2013 rejected it," the parliamentary affairs minister told reporters said.
Attacking the Siddaramaiah government, Kumar said, "Siddaramaiah is adopting Britisher Robert Clive's divide and rule strategy ahead of assembly polls. The Congress is doing vote-bank politics. This will not benefit them. It will boomerang."
Another Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal claimed that the Congress government in the state has given separate religion status to "stop Yeddyurappa from becoming the chief minister".
The Karnataka Cabinet recently decided to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority status for the numerically strong Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community.
The decision is expected to have an impact on the upcoming elections as the Lingayat community accounts for 17 per cent of the state's population.
Both Lingayats and Veerashivas are devotees of Lord Shiva, but there are sections within each community that believe they belong to a different religion.
The Lingayat sect follows the 12th-century poet and social reformer Basavanna or Basava, who defied the caste system and Vedic rituals in Hinduism.