Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has put on hold his decision to include the numerically-strong Veerashaiva-Lingayat community in the central OBC list after a call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah Friday.
Sources in the BJP said Shah told the CM it would be best if Yediyurappa discussed with the central leadership before making any such announcements.
There was speculation that Yediyurappa will announce his decision to include the community in the central OBC list after he announced the formation of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat Development Corporation over a week ago.
In a statement issued Friday, the chief minister said: “There has been no formal decision taken on the recommendation to the Centre for the community to be included as an OBC. I will consult the leaders in Delhi during my visit.” He, however, didn’t specify when he will visit Delhi.
Karnataka BJP spokesperson S. Prakash told ThePrint: “This decision will have ramification on a national scale. That is why the central leadership advised Yediyurappa ji to take a decision only after in-depth discussions.”
The idea behind the demand to include the Veerashaiva-Lingayats in the central OBC list was to give them 27 per cent reservation in all central government jobs and in educational institutes. In Karnataka, the community currently falls under the backward class with ‘Category 3B’ with a 5 per cent reservation.
Attempt to consolidate Lingayat vote
In its order last Tuesday, the state government had announced the formation of the Lingayat development corporation and allocated Rs 500 crore to it.
The CM also appointed the president of the Karnataka Veerashaiva Educational Development Board, B.S. Paramashivaiah, as its head.
In his order, the CM said: “The state has a huge population of Veerashaiva-Lingayats, of which there are people who are economically, socially and educationally backward. Since there is a need to set Karnataka Veerashaiva-Lingayat Development Corporation for the all-round development of this community, it is ordered to immediately set up this corporation.”
A senior BJP functionary, who didn’t want to be named, said the move was seen as an attempt to consolidate his hold over the Lingayat community, which comprises nearly 17 per cent of the electorate in Karnataka. The CM belongs to this community.
Besides the formation of the Lingayat Development Corporation, Yediyurappa also announced the setting up of a Maratha Development Authority a fortnight ago and earmarked Rs 50 crore it.
“These decisions have not been received well by the central leaders and they did communicate that Yediyurappa should consult Delhi before making such major decisions,” said the BJP functionary mentioned above.
Govt in a spot
The government’s move to set up development boards for the Maratha and Veerashaiva-Lingayat communities was perceived as an attempt to woo both the sections in Basavakalyan assembly seat in Bidar district and Belagavi Lok Sabha seat, bordering Maharashtra, where bypolls are due.
Both the communities form a sizeable number of voters in these constituencies. Basavakalyan and Belagavi fell vacant after the deaths of sitting Congress MLA B. Narayan Rao and BJP MP Suresh Angadi.
The announcement of the Maratha development board was, however, met with strong objection by some pro-Kannada groups, which have called for a bandh on 5 December.
Following the announcements of the Maratha and Lingayat corporations, demands poured in from Vokkaliga, Kuruba, Valmiki, Kodava, Christian, Jain and other communities for similar development boards, putting the BJP government in a spot.