BJP's BS Yeddyurappa was signatory to petition demanding separate religion for Lingayats

State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa DH file

State BJP president B S Yeddyurappa DH file

The Union Home Ministry will examine in detail the Karnataka government's recommendation to grant religious minority tag to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community as and when it receives the proposal, an official said today.

Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, who worship Hindu deity Shiva as their universal god, are the largest community (17 per cent) in the state, whose votes could influence the outcome of the state assembly election in April-May.

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Weeks before forthcoming Assembly polls, the Congress government in Karnataka on Monday approved a seven-member committee's recommendation to accord separate minority religion status to Lingayats.

The Congress has denied that its decision is linked to the upcoming election. The objective of the minority recognition laws in this country is not to recognize or carve out a religion. He cites the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 which states that only the central government can recognize a particularly religion as a minority religion; given the religion is not recognized as a distinct religion in the state let alone the country. "One believes in Basveswara and the other is a sub-sect of Lingayat", asserting that the Congress' response was a technical error back then. Shortly after the decision was made by the state government clashes broke out between groups who opposed and welcomed the step.

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"Lingayat is a part of Hinduism".

The minister's remarks came a day after the Karnataka Cabinet made a decision to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority status for the numerically strong Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community. In its pursuit of political dividends, the Congress government in Karnataka has turned a theological debate into a political dispute that threatens to divide and polarise.

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The Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha on Tuesday said it would not accept the Karnataka cabinet's decision to recommend to the Centre granting religious minority tag to the dominant Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community. The BJP's tallest leader in the state and former chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, belongs to the community. This could upset the electoral calculations of the BJP, which has been trying to build a consolidated Hindu vote in the state.

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