Religion tag for Lingayat is not poll issue: Siddaramaiah

With just four days left for campaigning for the Legislative Assembly elections, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday categorically said the State Cabinet’s decision to grant ‘religious minority’ tag for the Lingayat/Veerashaiva Lingayat community was a not an election issue.

At a meet-the-press programme organised by the Press Club of Bangalore here, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the issue of granting minority religion tag for the Lingayat community was not initiated by his government. Lingayat leaders made a representation to the government, which was in turn referred to the KarnatakaState Minorities Commission.

The commission referred the matter to an experts’ committee headed by retired High Court judge H.N. Nagamohan Das, he said.

The State Cabinet accepted the committee report and granted the ‘religious minority’ tag for the Lingayat/Veerashaiva Lingayat community.

The government then forwarded the Cabinet recommendation to the Centre for its consideration, the Chief Minister said.

The proposal to grant ‘religious minority’ tag for the community also came before the previous BJP government, he said.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said “there is no Modi wave or magic” in the State and the electorate was disgusted with the alleged low level of campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “His (Mr. Modi’s) speeches are hollow and full of lies,” the Chief Minister said, and claimed that the Congress’ campaign was much stronger than the BJP’s.

Maintaining that the Janata Dal (Secular) was present only in a few southern districts of the State and the BJP in the northern parts, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the victory in this elections would be a stepping stone for the Congress to win the 2019 general elections.

‘Congress fears setback’

Speaking to presspersons after the Chief Minister’s programme, BJP chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa lashed out at the State government and the Congress for backtracking on the Lingayat issue fearing an electoral setback.

The Siddaramaiah government tried to divide the community on religious lines and decided to grant the ‘religious minority’ tag for it. “Why is the Congress not making it an election issue now?” he said.

Gowda did not help my political career: CM

Mr. Siddaramaiah on Sunday said JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda had not helped him in becoming Deputy Chief Minister in the J.H. Patel government and the N. Dharam Singh government and that his political talent was first identified by the former Chief Minister late Ramakrishna Hegde.

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