In a major blow to the BJP ahead of Karnataka polls, seer Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru of Chitradurga Mutt has backed the Siddaramiah government’s decision to grant minority status to the Lingayats calling it’s a step to unite the divided sub-castes.

In his letter to Shah, the seer said: “Minority status to this religion will deliver some benefits to youth of community-individually and collectively.”

“It is not step to divide community but measure to unite divided sub-castes of Lingayats,” he added.

Interestingly, the letter comes following a meeting between Shah and seer Shivamurthy on Tuesday where the duo discussed various issues.

The mutt’s decision to back the minority religion status accorded to Lingayats by the Karnataka government will put a spanner in the works for the BJP which was betting big on uniting the Lingayats under the Hindutva plank against the Congress ahead of the May 12 polls.

Lingayats form nearly 17 per cent of the state’s electorate and have been Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) core vote-bank led by former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.

Shah was on a two-day tour of poll-bound Karnataka and met religious leaders from various influential seminaries in the state with an aim to unite the Mutts against the Congress.

The BJP had stood firmly against granting a minority status and alleged that Siddaramaiah was “breaking Hindu society for electoral gain”.

Dubbing the Karnataka government’s notification of religious minority status to the Lingayats an election stunt, Shah on Tuesday said appeasement polices were the culture of the Congress.

The state’s welfare department on March 23 notified the minority religion status to Lingayat followers of the 12th century social reformer Basava amid protests by the Veerashaiva Lingayats who were ignored.

Lingayats, who worship Hindu god Shiva as their deity, and Veerashaiva Lingayats constitute the largest community in the state.