Seer to bat for hike in quota, minority status for Lingayats

04:50 PM May 07, 2023 | PTI |

Bengaluru: Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peeth seer Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swami asserted that he will push for a hike in reservation for the Lingayat community, irrespective of the political party that comes to power after the May 10 Karnataka Assembly elections.


He said the then Siddaramaiah led government (2013 to 2018) had recommended to the Centre to accord minority status to Lingayat community like it was done for Jainism and Buddhism. However, the central government had neither accepted nor rejected the proposal.

”In the coming days, I expect Lingayats to be given a separate minority status.”

Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swami had led the 32-month protest seeking the classification of the Panchamashalis, the largest sub-sect of the powerful Lingayat community, from 3B to 2A in the Other Backward Classes (OBC). Since it was not possible to provide under 2A, the Bommai government created a new ‘2D’ category and provided 2 per cent more reservation, increasing the total reservation for Lingayats to 7 per cent.

The state has four categories of OBC: 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B based on the economic, social and educational status. These communities get preferential reservations in jobs and educational institutions based on the categories. While 2A are the most backward, 2B are moderate, and a little above them is 3A and 3B.


The Lingayats make up nearly 17 per cent of the population in Karnataka.

In an interview to PTI, Mruthyunjaya Swami said, ”In the present situation, we have got some justice. We are satisfied with the government’s decision. This is the first victory of our protest.”

There was a stay from the High Court on 2A. The stay was vacated on a condition that no more communities will be included in it. Therefore, the government had to create a new category ‘2D’ to provide for two per cent extra reservation for Lingayats, he explained.

This was done following Prime Minister Narendar Modi’s intervention as the BJP realised that if the demand was not met then the party would suffer a huge setback in the assembly election, he claimed.

Asked if he would demand an increase in reservation for Lingayats if the new government comes to power, Swami replied, ”Definitely.” ”We have got seven per cent reservation under 2D. Whichever political party comes to power, I will put pressure to increase the seven per cent quota within the ambit of 50 per cent,” he added.

Noting that former CM Siddaramiah’s ”corrupt Lingayat chief minister” remark has hurt the community badly, Mruthyunjaya Swami said though the Congress leader has issued a clarification he did not insult Lingayats but still his statement has left many in the community scarred. Siddaramaiah had said he was only referring to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is a Lingayat.

The swami further said many Lingayat leaders like Nijalingappa and Veerendra Patil have worked honestly in the past. Many in the community felt Siddaramaiah’s statement ”wiped out” the good work of these tall leaders. In Karnataka, those belonging to Lingayats, backward and Vokkaliga communities have become chief ministers.

”If anyone criticises a community, people of that community get hurt. So, Lingayats are hurt. In our democracy, you have freedom to criticise anyone personally. It is not good to target a community,” he added.

To a query, if the Lingayat reservation issue has been used for a political purpose, Mruthyunjaya Swami, said, ”It is unfortunate.” Elections should be fought on a development agenda. In the last 70 years, most of the elections have been fought on the basis of religion and caste across the country, he recalled.

He also suggested to all political parties that more than courtesy and compassion, they should ensure the security of the Lingayat community. ”Let them give a guarantee that a person from this community will be made CM, on coming to power, financial support to poor Lingayat students among others. They should make such a promise,” he said and advised all political parties in the state not to make comments that hurt any community.

Asked if he plans to direct the Lingayat community to vote for BJP, Mruthyunjaya Swami said he doesn’t want to give any statement in favour of any political party. ”All political parties extended support to our protest. Be it any caste or political party, I only wish good for them. I don’t want to openly support or criticise any particular political party,” he added.

The voting to elect MLAs to the Karnataka assembly will take place on May 10 and the counting will be on May 13.


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