Phone call from Delhi makes Yediyurappa defer Lingyat move

Bengaluru, Nov 27 : A telephone call from a powerful central BJP leader on Friday morning forced Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa defer his decision on a proposal to recommend inclusion of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community in the Other Backward Community (OBC) list.

Yediyurappa’s daily itinerary had put the media on high alert since Thursday night, as it stated that the Chief Minister was himself going to brief the media after the cabinet meeting.

The subject of inclusion of Veerashaiva-Lingayat community in the OBC list was also listed in the cabinet agenda but had to be deferred even before the cabinet meeting began on Friday.

Speaking to reporters here, a visibly dejected Yediyurappa said that on the Veerashaiva-Lingayat issue, for various reasons, he would take a decision only after consulting the party high command.

“I will soon go to Delhi and come back after consulting them (party high command). It won’t be decided today,” he said in a huff.

He quickly added in the same breath that it was also the opinion of his Cabinet colleagues.

“It is a very special decision… after discussing with the high command, we will go ahead,” he reiterated.

The 77-year-old Veerashiva-Lingayat strongman is known for taking major decisions without consulting within the party. He was clearly in shock as his recent decisions such as forming the Maratha Development Board and forming the Veerashiva-Lingayat Community Board had already kicked off a row, which the party leaders are fighting hard to convince the other community voters.

These decisions have already opened Pandora’s box with every small and powerful community in the state starting to demand similar bodies.

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Meanwhile, party sources said that after receiving complaints against Yediyurappa’s unilateral decisions, a top central BJP leader called him up and directed him to defer a decision on the subject, noting that it is an important issue and its implications have not been discussed in the party forum yet.

In a departure from normal practice, Yediyurappa, as per his scheduled programme release on Thursday evening, was slated to address a press conference after the Cabinet meeting reportedly on the Veerashaiva-Lingayat issue — a task generally done either by the Information Minister or the Law Minister.

Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J.C. Madhuswamy said that as sub-castes under various other communities had been left out from the OBC list like Kunchatigas from Vokkaligas, it was decided to consider sending a comprehensive recommendation to the Centre about the communities that need to be included in the days to come.

“Hence, we had to defer the subject today,” he said in response to a question.

He quickly added that the subject had to be deferred as the state government was awaiting for the anthropologists report, certification of the backwardness and its nature. “Once we compile all data that is needed to convince the backwardness and then we can proceed,” he contended.

Rebutting that the subject was mentioned hastily in the cabinet agenda aimed at sending a signal to the high command and Yediyurappa’s detractors, Madhuswamy asserted that the proposed recommendation had nothing to do with the state government’s reservation policy, and was only for reservation in Central government services and educational institutions.

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According to the minister, the contention of Veerashaiva-Lingayats is that at present, only 16 sub-castes of Veerashaiva-Lingayats are considered as OBCs in the central list.

“The community should not be seen in parts by breaking it,” the minister claimed.

The inclusion of Veerashaiva-Lingayats in the Central list of the OBCs has been the long-standing demand of the community, and the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha has been pressing for this since 1994.

At present in Karnataka, Veerashaiva-Lingayats and their sub-groups are considered a backward class and they come under Category 3B with five per cent reservation.

Their inclusion in OBC Central list will mean 27 per cent reservation in Central government services and educational institutions under the Centre.

This move has come, days after the Yediyurappa government had announced the establishment of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat Development Corporation, and allocated Rs 500 crore to it.

The Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which owes allegiance to the 12th century social reform movement initiated by poet-saint-social reformer Basaveshwara, has a substantial population across Karnataka and parts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The politically influential community is considered to have a significant presence in about 140 out of the total 224 assembly constituencies in the state, and are decisive in about 90 seats, according to political leaders.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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