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Lingayat Cong ministers sign petition against caste census a month after Vokkaligas

Belagavi: At least three Karnataka ministers and the government’s chief whip are signatories to an All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha petition that was submitted to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday asking him to junk the findings of the caste census.

This development, on the sidelines of the Belagavi legislature session, came exactly a month after a similar petition by the Vokkaligara Sangha signed by Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar was given to Siddaramaiah.

The Veerashaiva Mahasabha petition was signed by lawmakers across all parties, including BJP state president B Y Vijayendra and former Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai.

The Congress signatories include ministers M B Patil, Eshwar Khandre, Shivanand Patil and chief whip Ashok Pattan. In all, 32 legislators have signed the petition.

Speaking to DH, Mahasabha national secretary H M Renuka Prasanna said that as some of the lawmakers belonging to the Veerashaiva Lingayat community were busy with the last day of the Legislature session, they could not sign the petition. “We will submit another petition soon with signatures from all the legislators from the community,” he said.

A delegation led by Mahasabha chief and senior Congress MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa submitted the petition to Siddaramaiah.

The Mahasabha has urged the government to commission a fresh survey while pointing out that the one done in 2015 is flawed. The apex Lingayat body also said that the caste census is already eight years old.

The Mahasabha underlined its concerns that the door-to-door survey was not done properly. Also, among those surveyed, many Veerashaiva-Lingayats had enumerated themselves with their sub-castes due to the fear of losing reservation benefits. “Furthermore, many people in the state have made self-declarations on the caste they belong to, but there hasn’t been any review to see whether or not they really belong to that community,” the petition stated.

Recently, Shamanur had cautioned Siddaramaiah that the Congress’ prospects could be hit during the Lok Sabha polls if the government acted upon the caste census.

Lingayats and Vokkaligas, the two dominant communities, are now on one side against the caste census that was commissioned by the first Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2015. Siddaramaiah has given the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes time till January 31, 2024 to submit the report.

(Published 15 December 2023, 15:48 IST)

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