Amidst the demand by the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiava Mahasabha to the State government to recommend the inclusion of Veerashaiva-Lingayats in the Central OBC list, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit to certain powerful Lingayat mutts in Central Karnataka is being keenly observed.
While the Veerashaiva-Lingayats are believed to be behind the BJP, the visits to mutts by the Congress leader in the election year could be signalling the intent of the Congress to woo the community, especially when the BJP’s Lingayat strongman and former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is seen as being sidelined in the party.
On Sunday, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, who met the Muruga Mutt seer Sri Shivamurthy Muruga Sharana, announced that Mr. Gandhi will be meeting the seer of Muruga Mutt in Chitradurga on August 3. He also indicated that the Congress leader will be meeting more important Lingayat seers during his Bharath Jodo padayatra that will traverse through the State next month.
“Mr. Gandhi will be meeting the Muruga Mutt seer and other seers on August 3. It is not only important to meet the seers during the election, but also during other times,” he told reporters at Chitradurga on Sunday. When asked if Mr. Gandhi will also be meeting the seer of the powerful Sirigere Mutt, he said: “Depending on the time, we will see if he can visit other mutts.”
Meanwhile, stepping up pressure on the ruling BJP, the Bengaluru city unit of Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha – reiterating its earlier demand — has urged the State government to recommend inclusion of all Veerashaiva-Lingayat sub-sects in the Central OBC list. The mahasabha will hold a jatha on Monday in all districts and submit a memorandum to the State government through the Deputy Commissioners, said mahasabha State president N. Thippanna.
Addressing presspersons here on Saturday, Mr. Thippanna said the Central OBC list does not include 28 sub-sects. He said the mahasabha will hold a convention on Monday at Freedom Park in the city where over 2,000 people are expected to participate. Several prominent seers are also likely to attend the convention, he said.
“A large population of Veerashaiva-Lingayats has been denied opportunities in education and employment since they are not part of the Central OBC list. The demand is being made to set right the anomaly,” he said.
H.M. Renuka Prasanna, the mahasabha’s secretary, said: “Our community members are not getting enough employment opportunities in Indian administrative, police and forest services and banks. Our children are missing out on admissions into central universities, Navodaya schools and Kendriya Vidyalayas,” he asserted.