The Lingayats are more determined than ever now to have themselves declared as a separate minority sect and to move away from the Veerashaiva section within their community. Accordingly, they are ready to set up their own Vishwa Lingayat Parishat, a parallel body to the already existing All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, the powerful body of the Veerashaivas.
According to Mr S M Jamdar, former bureaucrat and Lingayat scholar, the Lingayat community had tried its best to work with the Veerahshaiva Mahasabha so that a castless society could emerge within the community. Having failed to reach a common ground, “We have decided to set up a separate institution which will reflect the aspirations of the Lingayats.”
He said that the VLP would be launched on 23 January and would have the portrait of their founder,the 12th century social reformer Basavanna , on the logo. The draft of the bylaws was ready and would be finalised after consultations with religious heads concerned.
The former bureaucrat said that subsequently, enrolment to the new body would start both at the district and taluk levels. Lingayat community members from Telengana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra had already been consulted on the issue with the VLP giving emphasis on even having a youth sena.Responding to queries that the expert committee, set up by the government to go into the demands of the Lingayat community for a separate religion tag which would get them the minority status , he said the formation of the VLP could not be linked to it. Even if the panel took more than six months to present its report,it would not impact the formation of the Vishwa Lingayat Parishat.
The Lingayats and Veerashaivas, both part of the larger Lingayat community account for 19 per cent of the state’s popuation and have been known to support the BJP under its state unit president, Mr B S Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat himself.
The Siddaramiah government has been seeking to divide the community by encouraging some among the section to seek a separate religion tag. Predictably, it has had the desired impact and the Lingayats are embroiled in a major controversy over the issue the outcome of which could have a major impact on the forthcoming assembly elections.