In the election year, the BJP which has been beleaguered by demands from various caste groups for change of categories or reserve status has another issue on the board. On Sunday, the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha reiterated its earlier demand and urged the state government to recommend the inclusion of all Veerashaiva-Lingayat sub-sects in the central OBC list.
“The state government should immediately send the memorandum to add all Veerashaiava-Lingayat sub-sects to the Center for inclusion in the central OBC list. The memorandum has been given many times before,” Mahasabha general secretary Eshwar Khandre told reporters after the general assembly. He said: “If this is not done, the general body of the mahasabha has passed a resolution to start an agitation at the hobli level and at the taluk level demanding the same to put pressure on the government.”
Currently, 14 of the 89 sub-sects of Veerashaiva-Lingayat are on the OBC Central List for Education and Employment Opportunities, and the demand for inclusion of all sub-sects spread across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Goa has been on hold for some time.
Incidentally, an attempt by then Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa in November 2020 to get a nod from the State Cabinet to recommend all Veerashaiva-Lingayat sub-sects for OBC status in the list central would have been rejected by the central leadership of the BJP for political reasons. The rise of the BJP has been widely attributed to huge support from the Veerashaiava-Lingayats, especially in the Bombay-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka regions, and the mahasabha’s resolve increases the pressure on the BJP.
“Much of the population of Veerashaiva-Lingayats have been denied education and employment opportunities as they are not part of the central OBC list. The request is made to correct the anomaly” said Mr. Khandre, who is also the incumbent president of Congress, but declined to comment on the political implications of the community’s demand which was reiterated in the election year.
Mahasabha sources said the request was not new as the community had long been asking the state government to recommend the community for OBC listing, and a similar request was also made to the minister in Chief Basavaraj Bommai.
Meanwhile, the mahasabha also urged the state government on Sunday to install the 12th-century statue of the holy philosopher Basavanna at the Vidhana Soudha premises, in line with an earlier Cabinet decision. “The statue should be installed in Vidhana Soudha premises as soon as possible,” Mr Khandre said.
Another important decision taken at the general assembly was to rename the Akhila Bharath Veerashaiva Mahasabha to Akhila Bharath Veerashaiva-Lingayat Mahasabha, a long overdue request from Lingayat sub-sects, especially during the movement to demand a separate religious status for Lingayats in 2017-2018.
Mahasabha President Shamanur Shivashankarappa was also present.