The Panchamasali community’s movement for 2A reservation status in the OBC list seems to be showing some cracks, with two Ministers accusing the Koodala Sangama Panchamasali Peetha seer of being in the “firm clutches of a few individuals looking to use the community for their political gains”.
While appealing to the seer to drop his dharna plans, Ministers Murugesh Nirani and C.C. Patil, who pledged their support along with 14 Panchamasali legislators to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, alleged that their party colleague Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, a legislator from Vijayapura, and former Congress legislator Vijayanand Kashappanavar had the seer in their clutches.
The Ministers accused the two leaders of “misusing the Panchamasali convention for their selfish political gains with their inciting speeches”. They said that it was unfortunate and condemnable that the community was being misled on the ground reality about the process of providing 2A reservation.
Mr. Kashappanavar, on his part, dismissed the allegations and claimed that both BJP leaders would lose their ministerial posts if he “spoke the truth”. He said the Ministers were upset about his growing popularity in the community.
A padayatra of nearly 700 km, taken up over 39 days, from Koodala Sangama had culminated with the convention at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru on Sunday. The aim was to exert pressure on the government. Seer Basava Jayamruthyunjaya Swami announced a dharna and an indefinite fast later if the demand was not met. Mr. Yatnal launched a personal attack on the Chief Minister and accused him of running a “drama company”. The sudden announcement of a rally towards Vidhana Soudha sparked off tense moments for the police, who later convinced the seer to march towards Freedom Park, from where he has started a dharna on Monday.
“The aim of the convention was to demand the inclusion of the community under 2A category. However, Mr. Yatnal used the platform to attack the Chief Minister and his family members, which is not acceptable,” said Mr. Patil. He also accused Mr. Kashappanavar of becoming the president of the Koodala Sangama Trust without convening a meeting of either the trust or the community leaders.
According to Mr. Nirani, at a meeting of political leaders from the community that was held in Tumakuru ahead of the convention, it had been decided that after the convention the government would be given time. “However, the seer, under the influence of the two [Mr. Kashappanavar and Mr. Yatnal] took other decisions beyond the convention,” he claimed.
“Under a 1994 Supreme Court directive, the backward classes commission has to give a report [on reservation] and the decision has to be apolitical. We cannot set a deadline. Once the report is given, the Cabinet will discuss it,” Mr. Patil said.
While both Ministers invited the seer for a dialogue and sought time, the seer refused to agree. “Let Yediyurappa announce the formation of a committee under a retired judge, as promised by the Ministers. Then we will consider. I will not go to the government for talks. Let them come to Freedom Park,” he said, adding that he wasn’t under anyone’s influence.