New Delhi: The Home Ministry has forwarded the Karnataka government's recommendation to grant religious minority status to the Lingayats to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, saying the issue is beyond its jurisdiction, an official said on Thursday.
"The proposal to grant the minority status on Lingayats and Veerashaivas in Karnataka has been sent to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. The matter is now being dealt by it," the Home Ministry official said.
The Home Ministry had put up the proposal to the Registrar General and Census Commissioner for detailed examination and suggestions and it was later decided to sent it to the Minority Affairs Ministry, he added.
The official said the issue was "beyond the MHA jurisdiction and hence was forwarded to the Ministry of Minorities Affairs, which is the competent authority to take a decision."
According to the official, a decision on the issue is not expected soon as the Model Code of Conduct has come into force in Karnataka, where Assembly elections are due on May 12.
On March 19, the Karnataka government had decided to declare the Lingayats as a religious minority, as well as include Veerashaivas as a group within the community.
The state then forwarded the proposal to the Centre for approval and notification under the National Commission for Minorities Act.
The Lingayats and Veerashaivas follow 12th century social reformer Basavanna or Basava's ideology and teachings.
They make up around 17 per cent of the state population and can influence outcome on nearly 100 seats in the 224-member Assembly. They are traditionally supporters of the BJP, especially in northern Karnataka.
Karnataka Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra had said the decision was based on the recommendations of the Karnataka State Minorities Commission.
The recommendation for a separate religion status for the Lingayat community was also made by a seven-member committee headed by retired High Court Judge H.N. Nagamohan Das, set up by the Siddaramaiah government in December 2017. The committee submitted its report on March 2.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and several sections of the Hindu community have maintained a cautious stance on the issue, while accusing the Siddaramaiah government of dividing the society to draw political mileage ahead of the Assembly elections.