Congress has made one of their biggest mistakes in recent times by trying to divide the community of Lingayats and Veerashaivas by holding out the “Reservation” carrot.
Reservation is the bane of our country and needs to be eliminated completely. However politicians have been revelling in holding out the incentives to different castes and religions based on the concept of “Reservation” and Siddaramaiah has now taken this concept too far to divide the developed community of Lingayats.
Lingayats in Karnataka are the ruling class and are well developed educationally and economically. Hence they donot need reservation. Actually it is demeaning for most Lingayats if they get some benefits in future based on the concept of “Reservation”. Today they are considering themselves on par with the “Bramhins” in the society but once they become “Reservation targets” , Lingayats will get demoted in public perception as equivalent to SC, ST and BC.
I therefore think that most Lingayats are not comfortable with the “Separate Religion” tag. However, like the majority of Muslims not being able to oppose the minority radicals in their community, some Lingayat leaders may find it politically incorrect to oppose what on the face of it is projected as a “Benefit”.
Today, this silent majority may be in a dilemma what to do in the election. But the progressive people in the community will see the Congress bluff and remain with BJP. Even if some vocal leaders try to support Siddaramaiah, they will remember that Mr Siddaramaiah and his Congress Culture is more suitable for the PFI than the Lingayats who are an off shoot of Hindus who revolted against some customs.
The Lingayat issue has given an indelible mark on Siddu as a “Divider of Hindu Community” and along with his support for PFI by withdrawing cases against the radical elements and then accepting the support of PFI in the elections has declared a war on the Hindu community.
People of Karnataka are aware that Congress of Rahul Gandhi is fundamentally anti Hindu despite his temple hopping gimmick and Mr Siddaramaiah though a staunch Hindu at heart would not mind selling out the interest of Hindus to remain in power.
The Lingayat issue therefore has indirectly created a polarization of Hindu votes not limited to the Lingayat community but also in the larger Hindu-Muslim polarization. The Lingayat Veerashaiva division is recognized as an attempt to weaken the Hindu community in general and help the Muslim community to consolidate their support base.
Perhaps Siddu did not anticipate such a backlash and also BJP may not like to openly exploit such a sentiment but the undercurrent of feeling that Rahul Gandhi and Congress is dangerous to the very existence of Hinduism in the world is slowly gaining strength. This could hurt Congress and could be a parity breaker to swing the pendulum in this election in favour of BJP.
The present community in the “Reservation Category” will also be upset that Congress is bringing a dominant community within the “Reservation Category” and ultimately, this can only dilute their present privileges. Hence Congress should lose some of its present support base also for its ill advised move to divide Lingayats.
There is no way leaders like Anant Kumar Hegde and others will leave an opportunity to exploit the situation and we can therefore see some fire works nearing the election. The Coastal Karnataka which has seen many killings of RSS workers may therefore consoldiate behind BJP much to the discomfort of Congress.
We have to wait and see how Congress counters this backlash.