K'taka: Mahasabha rejects religion tag, Veerashaiva-Lingayat rift to widen

BENGALURU: Infighting within Veerashaiva-Lingayat community is likely to intensify with several senior members of Akhila Bharat Veerashaiva Mahasabha (ABVM) reportedly rejecting a suggestion to endorse one of the resolutions seeking religion tag for Lingayats, adopted by some pontiffs, ministers and legislators, at a meeting here on Thursday.

On Thursday, one group of pontiffs and leaders led by water resources minister, M.B. Patil, adopted several resolutions, including one on separate religion tag for Lingayats, and renaming ABVM as Akhila Bharat Lingayat Mahasabha (ABLM).

A senior leader of the community and an office bearer of ABVM told DC that soon after conclusion of Thursday’s meeting, ABVM president, Mr Shamanoor Shivashankarappa, called some of the office bearers and suggested that the organization issue a statement reiterating the stand taken by the leaders at the meeting. A majority, however, opposed the idea and in turn, advised Mr Shivashankarapappa not to react to the new developments. The office bearers were cut up on being dubbed as anti-Lingayats.

They told Mr Shivashankarappa that they did not want to associate with the new group which claimed to be genuine followers of Basaveshwara. Thereafter, Mr Shivashankarappa decided not to react to the developments.

Meanwhile, pontiffs of ‘pancha maths’ (five maths), too, secretly met at an undisclosed venue.

When contacted Mr Shivashankarappa who declined to react to other developments contradicted Mr M.B. Patil, saying “Mr Patil said he had contacted me. But no. Neither did he speak to me, nor was any letter sent to me about inviting me for Thursday’s meeting.”

He said a meeting would be convened on August 17 to discuss the issue.

On the new name for ABVM, he said, “Twenty years ago when the issue turned controversial, the community leaders left it to pontiffs of Suttur and Siddaganga Math. What can I say when the revered swamis selected that name. I cannot remove or change the name,” he added.

With one section of the Lingayat community upping the ante on the issue of a separate religion tag, a vertical split of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community seems imminent. These leaders have opposed ABVM’s contention that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are two faces of the same coin, and demanded a separate Mahasabha for Lingayats.