February 6, 2021 3:02:14 am
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday asked leaders of a sub-sect of the dominant Lingayat community who are protesting for reservations under the backward classes quota, to approach the Central government with their demands saying he has no powers to address the issue.
Members of the Panchamasali sub-sect of the Lingayats have been protesting since January 14 for 15 per cent reservation in government jobs and education under the OBC quota.
Yediyurappa made the comments after BJP MLA Basavaraj Patil Yatnal raised the issue in the state legislature on Friday. Yatnal demanded a discussion and response from the Chief Minister on the ongoing agitation.
Yatnal and Lingayat seers who have been at the forefront of the quota demand have said the Panchamasali sub-sect has been neglected despite its members making up over 70 percent of the Lingayat community. Overall, Lingayats make up 17 percent of the state’s population. There are two ministers in the state government from the Panchamasali sub-sect. Yediyurappa and eight other top ministers belong to the Veerashaiva Lingayat community, but not to the sub-sect.
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Responding to Yatnal’s demands in the House, Yediyurappa said Friday: “Ours is a national party and not a regional party. We can take a decision only on the basis of the advice of the Prime Minister and other leaders in such matters. I do not have the power to make any decision on my own.”
Yatnal however, argued that Yediyurappa was only bringing up names of the the PM and other ministers to side-step the issue. “The state must recommend to the Centre for inclusion of Lingayats in the OBC quota, as it has the powers,” Yatnal said.
In a sharp response Yediyurappa said, “there are 25 BJP MPs in Delhi from Karnataka, let them take whoever they want and meet the Central leaders to get their issues resolved. It cannot be solved over here by the state government.”
Earlier in the week, Yatnal had first brought up the reservation issue saying: “Rallies have been held over the past few days to demand inclusion of 80 lakh Panchamasali Lingayats under Category 2A. The Chief Minister earlier said he would do it in two months, but no action was taken. Reservations will help the community progress.”
In November 2020, Yediyurappa had proposed demanding OBC quota for Lingayats from the Centre through a Cabinet decision.
On Thursday, Mines and Geology minister Murugesh Nirani and Small Scale Industries Minister C C Patil – both Panchamasali Lingayats — met two Lingayat seers who are leading the agitation.
According to sources, the ministers reportedly told the Panchamasali seers that Yediyurappa would soon direct the chairman of the Karnataka Backward Classes Commission to conduct a study and submit a report on bringing the Panchamasali community under the 2A category.
“The Panchamasali community has been agitating for more than two decades demanding 2A category. This community is educationally backward and primarily dependent on agriculture. I feel there is a good opportunity to bring the community under the 2A category during this government’s tenure,” the mines minister Nirani said in a statement after meeting the seers.
Panchamasali seer Mruthyunjaya Swami, who is leading the agitation for reservations for the sub-sect, has said that Yediyurappa should resign if he does not have the powers to look after the welfare of the community which voted him to power. The seer has stated that the community will approach the BJP leadership themselves if Yediyurappa steps aside.
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