Siddaramaiah Denies Repenting Attempt to Give Veerashaiva-Lingayat Separate Religious Status

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Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday denied repenting a move related to giving separate religious status to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community during his tenure.

The denial comes a day after a seer claimed the Congress leader was feeling guilty over the issue. No, I did not say like that (repenting). I just explained what had happened. I told him (seer) what we had done while planning to give the Veerashaiva Lingayat that status…, Siddaramaiah told reporters in Bengaluru.

He said he did not bother much about religion. However, it was Davangere South MLA Shamanuru Shivashankarappa, a veteran Congress leader, who submitted to him (Siddaramaiah) a memorandum seeking creating Veerashaiva-Lingayat religion, he added. Ahead of the 2018 Assembly election, the former Chief Minister said he drew flak when the State government tried to give the Veerashaiva-Lingayat’ sect a separate religious status by breaking it away from Hindu religion.

In the election, the Congress lost power and it was a hung Assembly as the party got a fractured mandate. On Friday, Prasanna Veerasomeshwara Shivacharya Swami of Balehonnur-based Rambhapuri Matha in Chikkamagaluru said Siddaramaiah repented for his move.

“Earlier, when he (Siddaramaiah) was the Chief Minister of the State, there were allegations that he was supporting an attempt to divide Veerashaiva-Lingayat sect. Today, he spoke his mind,” the seer said adding: “He told me: I did not make any such attempt, but some people tried to mislead me. I repent for it.” Former minister M B Patil, who was also at the centre of the controversial move, said no one tried to divide the religion. That time, there were lots of misgivings maybe because no proper discussion took place, he conceded. “After the election, we all had thought of sitting together and decide the next course of action,” he added.

Meanwhile, Congress State president D K Shivakumar said there was no harm in confessing to a mistake. If a man commits a mistake, there is nothing wrong in repenting it. No one is God. There were occasions when God, too, accepts a mistake, Shivakumar said.

He added that he was present in the Cabinet meeting when the decision to form a separate Veerashaiva-Lingayat sect had been taken and had expressed his views on it. According to sources close to Shivakumar, he had opposed the move and reminded Siddaramaiah about the fallout.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said he is not aware of repentance of Siddaramaiah. The Chief Minister declined to comment on it, but the people know what had happened.

“It was a talk between Siddaramaiah and Prasanna Veera Someshwara Swami of Rambhapuri Mutt. The seer has said Siddaramaiah was repentant. Siddaramaiah has commented on it. I am not aware of the statements of the two, so I don’t want to say anything. But the truth of what happened in that situation is known to all,” Bommai said.

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