Mumbai, Apr 6: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Friday said he is a Hindu Vaishnav and not a Jain. Shah’s statement came in response to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s claim that the BJP chief is a Jain. Shah once again accused Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka of dividing Hindus by giving Lingayats a separate religion status.

“I am not a Jain, but a Hindu Vaishnav,” Amit Shah responded when asked about the Siddaramaiah’s comment last month that the BJP chief is a Jain. Responding to Shah’s barb that Siddaramaiah is not an ‘AHINDA’ (a Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) leader but ‘AHINDU’ (non-Hindu) leader, Siddaramaiah had said last month that Shah should first clarify whether he himself is “AHINDU or not”.

Amit Shah is a Jain. He needs to clarify first whether he is AHINDU. Jain is a separate religion. How can he talk about me like that,” Karnataka Chief Minister had said. Shah, while speaking to reporters after a rally to mark the BJP’s 38th foundation day in Mumbai, also said, “I maintain that the Karnataka government’s move to give Lingayats a separate religion status is a move to divide the Hindus.”

“The UPA government had rejected the recommendation (to give Lingayats the status of a minority group) in 2013. The present decision has only been taken to stop Yeddyurappa from becoming the CM. This is an election gimmick,” the BJP chief added. Ahead of the Assembly elections, the Congress government on March 19 decided to recommend to the Centre that Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats should get the status of religious minority.

Single-phase polling for the 15th 225-member Karnataka Assembly will be held on May 12 and the votes counted on May 15. (With PTI inputs)