Congress goes all out in Maharashtra to lure Lingayat voters
A year after Karnataka granted the status of a separate religion and religious minority for Lingayats, the Congress seems to be playing the card in Maharashtra. In March 2018, the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka had granted the status of a separate religion to Lingayats and those Veerashaivas who accepted the philosophy of social reformer and poet-saint Basaveshwara. Lingayats form around 17 per cent of Karnataka's population with a strong presence in Mumbai-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka regions and are deemed to be the largest caste formation.
In Maharashtra, a section of the Lingayats had organised nine morchas to press for this. Vijaykumar Hatture, general secretary, Lingayat Samanway Samiti, said they would support the Congress after it agreed to concede the demand. "We follow the Hindu way of life and have a saffron flag and similar social structure. However, our practices differ. While Hindus cremate their dead, we bury them. Mahatma Basaveshwara rejected rituals," he added.