Some leaders, seers press for 16% reservation for Lingayats


Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s announcement on setting up a Veerashaiva Lingayat Development Corporation has not gone down well with some organisations, leaders and seers of the community, who have instead sought 16% reservation in employment and education for the community. However, others, such as the Veerashaiva Mahasabha, have welcomed the move.

Congress leader and former Minister M.B. Patil and JD(S) leader and former Minister Basavaraj Horatti, who had earlier written to the Chief Minister seeking 16% reservation for the community, have stuck to their stand and feel that the corporation will not be of much use to the large community of Lingayats. They are joined by Lingayat seers, who have raised questions about the nomenclature of the corporation and what purpose it would serve.

Mr. Horatti, who is associated with the Jagatika Lingayat Mahasabha, an offshoot of the independent religion movement for “Lingayatism”, had earlier written to Mr. Yediyurappa seeking 16% reservation, on the lines of the one provided in Maharashtra for the Maratha community. On Tuesday, he again sent a letter to the Chief Minister.

Mr. Horatti argued that the corporation, even with an allocation of ₹500 crore, would be of no use considering the huge population of the community, and reservation would be more effective. Mr. Horatti also urged the Chief Minister to work towards including Lingayats in the OBC list of the Union government. “If the government wants to set up a development corporation, then at least a grant of ₹5,000 crore should be provided,” he said.

‘Why the haste?’

Sri Tontada Siddarama Swami of Edeyuru Tontadarya Samsthana Mutt, Gadag, who led the independent religion movement for Lingayatism, took exception to “the haste” with which the corporation was being set up. He and Sri Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru of Brihan Mutt, Chitradurga, emphasised the need for providing 16% reservation.

Meanwhile, the Veerashaiva Mahasabha, which had made the demand for setting up the corporation during the 14-month JD(S)-Congress coalition rule and repeated it soon after B.S. Yediyurappa took over as Chief Minister, welcomed the move.

The Mahasabha rallied behind the Chief Minister and said that setting up a corporation would be the better option for the community than reservation, which is not legally feasible. With the Supreme Court’s ruling on restricting the reservation to 50%, the demand for a separate 16% reservation for the community may not be met easily and will be fraught with legal wrangles, said Veerashaiva Mahasabha national secretary H.M. Renuka Prasanna.

The Mahasabha also feels that it will now be easier for economically weaker sections within the community to access the scholarships and funds meant for their welfare.

Under pressure

Government sources said the Chief Minister was under pressure after he announced the setting up of the Maratha development corporation, as the demand for a separate corporation for Veerashaiva Lingayats had been there for quite some time, and Ministers, including Laxman Savadi and B.C. Patil, had also expressed their demand for it publicly.

Meanwhile, Mate Gangadevi of Basava Dharma Peetha, Koodalasangama, welcomed the move but opposed the use of the term “Veerashaiva” in the name of the corporation. “The Chief Minister should not resort to distortion of history by using the term,” she said.

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