The ruling BJP is in a fix over the demand of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community seeking its inclusion in the Other Backwards Classes (OBC) list by the Centre. The community leaders have also warned that if the demand is not fulfilled, they would start agitation on a large-scale.
Sources in the BJP said that it is not good news for the party, which is preparing to face the upcoming 2023 Assembly elections. Shamnur Shivashankarappa, President of the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva-Lingayat Mahasabha, who is also a veteran Congress leader from the state has stated that a decision in this regard has been taken in the general body meeting.
Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, considered as a dominant community in the state comprising 18 to 20 per cent of the population, is firmly standing behind the ruling BJP in Karnataka. Former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and present Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai hail from the Lingayat community.
It would be a tricky situation for the BJP-led Central government to accord Veerashaiva-Lingayat community the OBC status. According to sources, the decision has to be taken at the national level. Vokkaliga community, another dominant community from Karnataka was accorded OBC status during the tenure of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.
Eshwar B. Khandre, Mahasabha General Secretary and also a senior Congress leader stated that though Veerashaiva- Lingayat community is considered as a forward caste, it is one of the most backward communities in terms of socio, economic and academic scenarios.
The share of Veerashaiva-Lingayats is negligible in terms of recruitments in the UPSC, banking sector, railway, Staff Selection Commission and Public Sector enterprises run by the Central government, he said.
However, sources said that the timing of the demand by the Veerashaiva-Lingayat Mahasabha is intended to put the ruling BJP in a fix. If BJP commits to the fulfillment of the demand, it will have to address such demands from across the country which will open the Pandora's box.
If the BJP doesn't commit to the fulfillment of this demand, the opposition Congress can target them, sources said.
The BJP has not reacted over the issue and is treading cautiously.