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Religious minority tag to Lingayat ‘election gimmick’: Karnataka BJP chief

PTI | Bengaluru |

Karnataka BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa on Wednesday said the state government’s move to grant religious minority status to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community was a “election gimmick” and accused Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of dividing people on emotional issues.

Yeddyurappa is a Lingayat strongman and BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for the coming Karnataka Assembly polls.

He also sought to know the need to rake up the issue of minority tag when the UPA government had rejected the separate religious status to Lingayats.

“Siddaramaiah is dividing society on emotional issues. There is not just one Lingayat-Veerashaiva…The move to give religion tag to Lingayats is an election gimmick. It is an attempt to mislead people,” Yeddyurappa told reporters here.

The state BJP chief clarified his party’s stand on the contentious issue, saying the decision taken by the Akhil Bharat Veerashaiva Mahasabha would be binding on it.

Seeking to know whether Siddaramaiah can fulfil the demands of various communities, Yeddyurappa asked what his objectives were.

“Many communities have various demands. Can we fulfil all of them? What is your objective? What else other than sowing the seed of hatred between various castes? If you were really concerned, you could have said that we will stick to the decision taken by Veerashaiva Mahasabha,” he asked

“Siddaramaiah is an example of how low one can stoop just for political gains,” Yeddyurappa said.

In a move with major electoral ramifications ahead of the Assembly elections, the Karnataka Cabinet on Monday decided to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority tag to Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community, who follow the philosophy of 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara.

On Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing public rallies in different parts of Karnataka, Yeddyurappa said he has a track record of losing an election wherever he goes.

Yeddyurappa exuded confidence that BJP would garner more than 140 of the 224 seats in the Assembly, in the coming polls.