Basavanand Swamiji, a visually challenged Lingayat seer from the state of Karnataka, has torn into the divisive decision of according a distinct minority status to Lingayats by the Karnataka Chief Minister. Basavanand Swamiji, who hails from a tiny village in the Hassan district is respected and famous not only among the locals, but is renowned around the country for his efforts to spread the benefits of naturopathy and yoga among people. He even runs a hospital in Dharwad district, providing treatment for all kinds of ailments. The seer who had lost his eyesight after a bout of jaundice at the tender age of two, has made untiring efforts to popularise Ayurveda among people, especially the locals.
The respected seer has attacked the Congress at a time when the party looks to seize the opportunity and corner Lingayat votes just before elections. The Lingayat-Veerashaiva issue is an old debate which has become largely irrelevant in today’s time. However, it seems that the Congress in general and the Karnataka Chief Minister in particular, made all possible attempts to rake up the issue again, by according a minority status to the Lingayats and attempting to manufacture a new vote-bank.
However, Swamiji Basavand who has mass following in Dharwad as well as other parts of Karnataka, suggested that the Congress might have made a poorly calculated move. According to him, the people have been hurt and angered by this naïve move on the part of the Congress. The seer also commented that while the Congress thinks that this divisive move will benefit it politically, the move will badly backfire and become one of the causes behind an outright defeat of the Congress. He further mentioned that the youth wants the Lingayat-Veerashaiva community to be united and the crowd managed at a rally is not an appropriate way of judging the public response to the controversial move.
Swamiji also busted the myth of Lingayats having a separate status and tradition from Hinduism, as professed by the Congress and sections of the mainstream media. According to the Lingayat seer, customs and traditions of the community are influenced by Hinduism and therefore, the community is inseparable from Hinduism. The seer however narrated that he was pained by the conduct of both Lingayat and Veerashaiva seers who allowed themselves to be used as political pawns by the Congress. The seer further explained that the Basava philosophy is based on selflessness and social service, and that he will always be loyal to the Basava philosophy. He said he wants the community to be united at any cost. It seems that Swamiji has seen through the politics of division and deceit on the part of the Siddaramaiah government.
The Congress tried to employ the last weapon in its armory by separating the Lingayat community and according it ‘minority’ status. However, it seems that the reaction on the ground is that of anger instead of support. This is manifested by the comments of the widely respected and followed Lingayat seer. There could have been no one better than Basavanand Swamiji to comment upon the ramifications of the divisive move. The fact that the visually challenged seer might contest elections on a BJP ticket from the Kalghatgi seat only creates more problems for the Congress. Siddaramaiah’s chances already appeared bleak for the upcoming assembly elections, but after this desperate move that has evoked widespread anger, it seems that he has destroyed whatever chances he had of retaining the politically crucial state.
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