Not trying to divide any religion, says Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru: Amidst raging differences on the issue of separate religion status to Veerashivas/Ling-ayats, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Monday said he was not making any attempts to divide any religion.

“I’m not attempting to divide religion. Five (forums) of them have given petitions, I have sent the five petitions to the (state) minorities commission,” he told reporters at Hubbali in north Karnataka.

Veerashaiva/Lingayat is a numerically strong and politically-influential community concentrated largely in the northern part of Karnataka and pays allegiance to the 12th century “social reform movement” initiated by philosopher Basaves-hwara.

Mr Siddaramaiah said Veerashiva Mahasabha says they want a separate religion, but it should be Veerashiva-Lingayata dharma, while Lingayats maintain they want only Lingayat dharma.

“What should I do, tell me? As a government, as they have given the petition, with responsibility, I have referred all the petitions to the minority commission,” he added.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s comments come a day after seers and representatives of Veerashiva tradition at a rally yesterday reiterated their stand that Veerashaiva and Lingayats were one and the same and attempts to divide the community should be thwarted.