March 17, 2021 7:45:06 am
The Panchamasali Lingayats — a sub-sect of the dominant and politically significant Lingayat community in Karnataka — on Monday temporarily called off their agitation for reservation under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota after Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa sought six months to address their demand in a constitutional and legal manner.
The community had held a protest march on January 14 and was agitating in Bengaluru from February 21 for inclusion in the OBC quota of 15 percent in government jobs and education. It currently enjoys a quota of five percent.
On Monday, Yediyurappa assured the community from the floor of the Legislative Assembly that he would make a serious effort to meet their demands. Following his remarks, leaders of the community decided to call off the agitation. “On the basis of a request for six months to address the reservation issue, the agitation is being called off for six months,” a seer of the Panchamasali community, Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swami, announced Monday.
Yediyurappa made the commitment to resolve the issue even as BJP MLA Basavaraj Patil Yatnal, who is a member of the Panchamasali community, had warned that the agitation would be scaled up.
Yediyurappa sought time to resolve the issue by citing the creation of a three-member panel headed by a retired high court judge to study the reservation demands of the Panchamasali community and others, as well as an exercise being carried out by the state’s backward classes commission to ascertain if the Panchamasalis qualify for OBC reservations.
The three-member panel was constituted on March 10. “As per a Cabinet decision to resolve demands for reservations by various castes under legal and constitutional norms, a three member committee is being constituted under the chairmanship of retired high court judge Subhash Adi,” Yediyurappa had said then.
The Panchamasali Lingayats are a sub-sect of the Veerashaiva Lingayat community to which Yediyurappa also belongs.
MLA Yatnal and leaders of the Panchamsali Lingayats completed a 700 km march that began on January 14 in north Karnataka demanding the quota and have sat in protest in Bengaluru from February 21.
“If the government does not show the will to provide reservations as sought by the Panchamasali Lingayats then I will stage a dharna in the house and the protestors at the Freedom Park will go on a hunger strike,” the BJP MLA Yatnal had warned in the assembly last week.
The community, which is predominantly engaged in agriculture, has cited poverty among a large section of members to push for OBC reservations.
Panchamasalis claim to make up around 85 lakh of the six crore population in Karnataka and claim to make up more than 70 percent of the state’s Lingayat population — estimated to be around 17 percent of the total population in the state of Karnataka.
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