Karnataka: Identify as Lingayat, not as Hindu, Veerashaiva Mahasabha asks members | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Karnataka: Identify as Lingayat, not as Hindu, Veerashaiva Mahasabha asks members

By, Bengaluru
Dec 25, 2023 05:48 AM IST

The Veerashaiva Mahasabha has asked its community members not to describe themselves as Hindu in the forthcoming population census or caste census

The Veerashaiva Mahasabha has asked its community members not to describe themselves as Hindu in the forthcoming population census or caste census. This decision was taken among the eight resolutions adopted by delegates during the 24th annual convention of the Veerashaiva Mahasabha rally in Davangere on Sunday. Resolution number five taken during the convention specifically calls on all community members to refrain from using the term Hindu, stating that it is in the best interest of society and aims to accurately represent the community’s specific numbers.

Former chief minister Jagdish Shettar during the 24th annual convention of the Veerashaiva Mahasabha rally in Davangere on Sunday. (X)
Former chief minister Jagdish Shettar during the 24th annual convention of the Veerashaiva Mahasabha rally in Davangere on Sunday. (X)

“All community members are advised not to use the term ‘Hindu’ to describe their religious identity in the next census. They should shun names of sub-castes. They should only use the terms Veerashaiva or Lingayat to describe themselves. This is for the good of the society and to tell the world about the specific numbers of our community,” stated the resolution.

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Among the other resolutions passed is a demand for a fresh caste census. Criticising the outdated nature of the existing caste census, which is reportedly eight years old and has been leaked, there is a push for a realistic and scientifically conducted survey to provide an accurate depiction of the societal landscape. The suggestion is to use the term “Veerashaiva Lingayat” for a more precise census without delving into specific sub-caste names.

The religious convention was inaugurated by former chief minister Jagadish Shettar. During the valedictory meeting, MLA and Mahasabha president Shamanuru Shivashankarappa read out the resolutions, all of which were adopted unanimously. Prominent leaders, including BY Vijayendra, Basavaraj Bommai, Eshwar Khandre, N Thippanna, and Lakshmi Hebbalkar, were present at the event.

The rally further called on the state government to propose to the Union government the recommendation of central OBC status for all sub-communities of Veerashaiva Lingayats. “This will help the millions of community members who live in poverty,” stated one resolution.

Another resolution urged the state government to officially declare Basavanna as the cultural leader of the state, highlighting the eternal relevance of his ideology to the world. The Mahasabha also pressed for the state government’s acquisition of the residence of former chief minister S Nijalingappa in Chitradurga, proposing its development into a national monument.

The resolution comes amidst the ongoing tussle over the caste census. A split has surfaced within the state unit Congress regarding the release of the survey findings, with chief minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar being at odds, issuing conflicting statements on the release of the report. While the chief minister has said a decision will be taken once he receives the report, Shivakumar, who is also the state Congress chief, has advocated for a re-conduct of the caste survey.

Vokkaliags and Lingayats — Karnataka’s two dominant communities — have opposed the 2015 survey, calling it “unscientific” and have demanded that a fresh survey be conducted. The survey, parts of which were leaked ahead of the 2018 assembly polls, allegedly dispute the numerical strength of Lingayats and Vokkaligas.

Shivakumar, who is from the Vokkaliga community, was a signatory, along with a few other ministers, to a memorandum submitted by the community in November to the chief minister, requesting to reject the report along with the data.

The leaked data indicated that Scheduled Castes (SCs) accounted for 19.5% of the state’s total population, followed by Muslims at 16%. Lingayats and Vokkaligas represented 14% and 11% of the population, respectively. Within the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the Kuruba community alone comprised 7% of Karnataka’s population, contributing to the OBCs’ overall representation of 20% in the state.

Collectively, these groups, including SCs, STs, Muslims, and Kurubas, formed a substantial portion of the population at 47.5%. The political implications of these findings could significantly impact the state’s political landscape, according to federations of marginalised sections.

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