The All India Veershaiva Mahasabha on Friday said both Veershaiva and Lingayats were one and condemned the Karnataka government's decision to carve out a difference between the two.
While one section led by Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha has demanded separate religion status, asserting that Veerashaiva and Lingayats are the same, the other wants it only for Lingayats as it believes that Veerashaivas are one among the seven sects of Shaivas, which is part of Hinduism.
The notification said that those reposing faith in preaching of Basaveshwara be recognised as Lingayat Veerashaiva and comes into effect from the date of notification of such decision.
He said there were several sects within the Hindu religion and each can not be recognised as a separate religion.
The stand taken by the NDA supporter and Dalit leader is a big clue of how the government will take the battle ahead with the Congress, as it expects to get political dividends from this castism-move in the southern state.
The Veershaivas had a working committee meeting of the Mahasabha on Friday after which Shivashankarappa said, "The state government had accepted our request for 'Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayats ( those who follow Basava Tatva) for minority status and has recommended it to the Union Government". "If we put our mind to it and go into the streets to oppose this decision by the Congress to divide our community and keep us out, we can easily defeat them", a junior pontiff of the Rambhapuri mutt told ET in Balehonnur. He clarified that without understanding the nuances of the inclusion of Veerashaiva-Lingayats (believers in Basavanna's philosophy), Shivashankarappa gave his assent to the government decision.
The recommendation was made by the Nagamohan Das committee.
The Lingayats, who form about 17 percent of the state's electorate, are a key support base for the BJP, whose chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa also hails from the community. The time asked by the committee was around six months but the state wanted the committee report in 1.5 months.
"Siddaramaiah is walking a very thin line and the entire issue can boomerang very badly on us", another cabinet minister, whose constituency has a large presence of Veerashaivas, admitted.