Notwithstanding the party's ambiguity over minority status to the Lingayats and the party leadership earlier having flayed Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on the issue, BJP national president Amit Shah on Wednesday paid tribute to the 12th century social reformer and Lord Basaveshwara and garlanded his statue here on his birth anniversary.
Shah arrived at the city's Basaveshwara Circle along and offer floral tributes to the iconic figure whose life and teachings have been a source of inspiration to millions of people in Karnataka and outside. Shah was accompanied by BJP's Chief Ministerial face for the forthcoming polls B S Yeddyurappa, also a prominent Lingayat leader.Union Parliamentary Affairs and a senior leader from the state Ananth Kumar also offered tributes to Lord Basaveshwara.
Earlier in the day, a large number of activists and supporters from Lingayat Mahasabha staged protest at the Basaveshwara Circle and demanded BJP chief should clarify his party's stand on granting minority status to the Lingayats.
Born as Basavanna, Lord Basaveshwara is credited for spreading social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanas (sayings). He is said to have rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals such as the wearing of sacred thread. He was also instrumental in introducing new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa or, the "hall of spiritual experience"-which discarded gender discrimination and welcomed people from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life.
In the run up to the next month's Assembly polls, the Congress government in Karnataka last month approved a seven-member committee’s recommendation to accord separate minority religion status to Lingayats. Apparently the move had upset BJP's electoral calculation as the saffron party is now caught between its Hindu nationalist ideological moorings and the assertion of a non-Hindu identity by the Lingayats.
BJP's chief ministerial face Yeddyurappa is a Lingayat himself. The community accounts for 17 per cent of the state’s population. The BJP leaders have maintained that the Congress conspiracy to divide people and garner votes will not succeed while Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had described Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as being the "modern day Robert Clive" - a reference to the colonial legacy of divide and rule. (UNI)