It was in the name of Lingayats, the Congress took a shameless decision to divide Lingayats and declared them as non-Hindus. This was a game plan by Congress to prevent the United Hindu votes from going to BJP.
But the entire plan seems to have backfired very badly to Congress with people from the home turf of Basavanna have started to question Congress’s ulterior motives to use Lingayats as their vote banks. A report put out by Indian Express says that the opinion about Congress with the Lingayat community has seriously changed since the time they divided Lingayats.
A shopkeeper Prabhu Patil from Basavakalyan town, who had joined the march demanding separate status for Lingayats now says that he no longer supports Congress. “I had gone for the cause of Lingayat unity. I didn’t know that they were lobbying for a separate religion. This is nothing but a way to divide us,” says Patil. When his community goes out to vote, he says, most in Basavakalyan constituency will not vote for the Congress.
The 12th Century poet and social reformer Basavanna dedicated his entire life for unity and upliftment of people from every section. But the Congress plan to use his name to divide Hindus was one of the biggest blunders to have committed which will probably decide their future. The Congress workers in the Bidar-Bijapur districts feel confused and they have no idea whether to openly speak against Lingayat division or support it. They have chosen to remain silent and do not speak anything about Lingayat minority status.
“Basava is a god. He is worshipped by everyone, from Lingayats to Dalits to Muslims. But the religion he founded was not accepted even in the place of his birth. If it were, would this not have been a casteless society?” says Gundappa Muttaladini, 58, a journalist in Benal village in Basavanna Bagewadi. Indeed, the Lingayat community is stratified into 98 sub-castes, with its own hierarchy. “The Panchamshali considers himself superior, and will not marry the Harpad Lingayat,” he says (Indian Express Report)
People in the area openly admit that there is no difference between Hindus and Lingayats as all tradition and rituals are same. Another person in the town stated “In the jeguli in our house, we worship Basava as well as the other gods,” says Shankaraiyya Machakanooru, a Panchamsali Lingayat in Basavanna Bagewadi constituency. He said that “minority status” will not affect voters either way (Indian Express Report).
Some of the villagers also said that the plot to divide Hindus was just for politics and elections, Congress would not work for Lingayats as their vote banks are minorities. They also said that the minority status will not make any difference to us as we will not get any benefits. They now have an opinion that BJP is trying to delete the caste divide among the Hindus which is welcomed by most villagers.
In Siddheshwara Lingayat temple, which is Basavangouda Patil Yatnal, the BJP candidate’s constituency people hardly speak about any bhagya schemes of Congress government. Patil who is also a strong Hindutva face has turned the battle like India-Pakistan match. People here mostly tell what is the use of giving free rice, till how long will they give, they should instead give jobs to people and help them earn sustain their family.
In Bagewadi town, B S Patanshetti, 75, clerk in a temple trust, says Lingayats cannot benefit under a Congress government. “In fact, the Kurubas have become more assertive and aggressive now,” he said. “Yedyurappa is a good man, but he got a bad name the last time he was a CM. There was a lot of corruption. But at least one hopes that [PM] Modi can oversee matters, put him on the right track,” said Siddu, owner of a paan shop in Jewargi constituency.
In the interior places of Gulbarga which has been most neglected by Congress leader is now facing a severe shortage of drinking water and basic facilities. Now people are showing their anger against Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge who is facing massive anti-incumbency.
So the entire scenario is that Lingayats will not vote for Congress as they very well know Congress do not support Hindus and is tagged a minority party. So, Congress has clearly committed a mistake trying to divide Hindus which has further dented their image as anti-Hindu.