Bengaluru, Mar 28 (PTI) A prominent Lingayat seer has commended the Siddaramaiah government’s decision to recommend grant of religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats, in an embarrassment to BJP president Amit Shah, who had termed it as an attempt to ‘divide’ the Hindu community.

The Seer of Murugha mutt, Dr Shivamurthy Murugha Sharanaru, backed the government move in a memorandum submitted to Shah at Chitradurga yesterday, seeking the Centre’s approval for the religious minority tag.

On a mission to connect with the pontiffs of the community, Shah had met several Lingayat/Veerashaiva seers during his two-day visit to Karnataka, in an apparent move towards keeping the BJP’s traditional Lingayat voter base intact, ahead of the May 12 assembly polls.

The pontiff said he had submitted a memorandum to Shah seeking the Centre’s approval for the religious minority tag for Lingayats as recommended by the Karnataka government.

He said Shah heard them patiently.

The memorandum pointed out that a strong movement is going on in Karnataka by Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayats, pressing for minority status to the community.

“At the outset it appears that there is a controversy between Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat followers,” but it is a “temporary outbreak of emotions” of small groups in the followers of both faiths and “it will not last long,” it said.

The seer further said that the government of Karnataka has “rightly” recommended to the Centre in this regard.

“Minority status to this religion will definitely deliver some benefits to the youth of this community- individually and collectively. It is not a step to divide the community, but a measure to unite the already sub divided sub caste followers in Lingayats,” he said.

During his two-day visit,Shah had yesterday said the move to accord religious minority tag to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Linagayats was an attempt to “divide” Hindus and questioned the timing of such recommendation,ahead of assembly elections.

The Karnataka cabinet on March 19 had decided to recommend to the Centre to grant religious minority tag to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.