In a public meeting on Wednesday, Shivakumar had said the decision by the party to accord separate religion status to Lingayats had perhaps backfired and that people should forgive the party for making this mistake.
Congress leader DK Shivakumar.
“His statement is his personal view. It does not reflect the party’s stand. The party has no stand on the issue as it is between the community and the government,” said Dinesh Gundu Rao, president, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.
In a public meeting on Wednesday, Shivakumar had said the decision by the party to accord separate religion status to Lingayats had perhaps backfired and that people should forgive the party for making this mistake. “There were a lot of political developments happening then, but no government must intervene in the matters of religion. Recently concluded events (assembly polls) have reflected on people’s sentiments on this matter,” he said.
According a minority religious status to the Lingayat community was a key election issue prior to May 2018 and the party had hoped that the decisions in favour of the community would fetch them the community’s votes. The Lingayats form 17 per cent of the state’s population. MB Patil, a minister in the previous government and Lingayat leader himself, had led their campaign for a minority religious status.
However, the results showed the Congress had lost a crucial chunk of the community votes. Seen as a consequence of this, the Lingayat leaders in the cabinet were not given a berth this time.
DK Shivakumar’s statements have also angered the community leaders who have been campaigning for the minority status. “The minister (Shivakumar) was present through all those cabinet meetings where the decision about the community was taken. We did not hear any different view from him then. This statement now has shocked us,” said SM Jamdar, a Lingayat scholar who spearheaded the movement.
“But others like MB Patil are still with us. So we don’t think this will affect us in anyway,” he said.
Headed by Siddaramaiah, the previous Karnataka congress government on March 19 accorded minority religion status to the lingayat community just ahead of the assembly elections in the State.