The campaign demanding a separate religion tag for Lingayats has now reduced to being just a 'messy affair' what with contradicting views among the leaders spearheading the movement, the silence of the prominent mutts and the Opposition party, BJP. And to top it comes the statement of Water Resources Minister MB Patil where he claimed to have received the support of Siddaganga mutt seer, Shivakumara Swamiji when there has been no official communication in this regard from the mutt authorities, so far.
Since the movement was launched by Mathe Mahadvei, the only female jagadguru in the community, a few months ago, the community is witnessing a division that has taken over its small fights of dominance over the sub-castes. Mathe Mahadevi has claimed that she has been demanding to separate the community from the Hindu religion as Lingayat is a religion itself and demanded the government to accord a separate religion tag to it. The assurance of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to forward their demand to the Centre has in fact divided the leaders from the ruling party itself. Various conventions are being held by Mathe Mahadevi to gather support for her cause. But the female seer has been strongly criticised by the seers of various mutts. So much so that the seer from the Rambhapuri Peetha had even tried to malign her character. Yet, Mathe Mahadevi has not been bogged down by all these and continues in her stride.
Leave alone the separate tag for the community; the community is now divided over the history and its long-held beliefs too. Also, the statements that Lingayats and Veerashaivas are different and vice versa and contrasting views on Basavanna, have further confused the community where the solution is nowhere near.
In fact, the community is finding itself a bit lost as seers of major mutts have remained tight-lipped on the whole issue. Be it Siddagana Mutt, Suttur Mutt or Moorusaavira Mutt, the prominent seers from these influential mutts have not issued statements either in support or against the movement. This has left the community members in the lurch. Except for the seer from Rambhapuri mutt that is part of the Pancha Peetha of Veerashaivas, none of them has reacted to it. But on Sunday, Water Resources Minister MB Patil claimed that Siddaganga seer had given the approval for separate religion tag for Lingayats, and his word was final. The mutt is yet to issue official communication in this regard.
As the state goes for Assembly elections early next year, the movement is sure to make its impact on the state's political scene. Lingayats have been the supporters of the BJP in the state. But with the Congress government causing division in the community - with votes in mind - it should be seen whether the Congress' strategy works in favour or not.