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Warring Politicians Unite to Demand Bharat Ratna for Apolitical Shivakumara Swami After Death

The apolitical seer, one of the tallest Lingayat leaders in Karnataka, was conferred with the Karnataka Ratna in 2007 and Padma Bhushan in 2015

Revathi Rajeevan | CNN-News18

Updated:January 22, 2019, 12:34 PM IST
Warring Politicians Unite to Demand Bharat Ratna for Apolitical Shivakumara Swami After Death
The Lingayyt seer died at 111 years. (Image: AP)

Bengaluru: As the people of Karnataka remember the contributions of Siddaganga seer Shivakumara Swami, who passed away in Tumkuru on Monday at the age of 111, there is a growing chorus for Bharat Ratna for the seer.

The demand has been there for decades now. The seer's name was recommended for Bharat Ratna by successive governments in Karnataka led by the BJP, Congress and JDS. Chief ministers BS Yedyurappa, Siddaramaiah, HD Kumaraswamy and other chief ministers before them had written to the Centre recommending the same.

A week before the seer passed away, Kumaraswamy had said he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make a similar request.

Remembering the seer, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge told CNN News18, “Today or tomorrow, he deserves it. He is the symbol of the nation's highest principles of secularism and highest principles of philanthropy and charity.”

Last Saturday, Karnataka home minister MB Patil tweeted:

“In the country’s history, if anybody has served the poor with a great heart, it is Siddaganga Shri who lived a full life. All MPs have asked for Bharat Ratna for the seer. We will again ask the Prime Minister for the same. That’s what crores of people are also demanding,” said BS Yedyurappa.

Twitterati has also joined the chorus with the hashtag #BharatRatna2ನಡೆದಾಡುವದೇವರು #BharatRatnaforSiddagangaShree #ShivakumaraSwamiji

News18 Kannada’s campaign “Devarige Bharat Ratna” (Bharat Ratna for the God) has gathered signatures from hundreds of people, including farmers and students in the last four days.

The seer was conferred with the Karnataka Ratna in 2007 and Padma Bhushan in 2015.

The seer, one of the tallest Lingayat leaders in the state, was known for being apolitical. The Lingayat community forms 17% of population in Karnataka and the mutt was on the list of places political leaders from across parties ensured they visited, for generations. But the seer never endorsed any party or political views. Even on the most discussed and debated issue of Lingayat religion ahead of the assembly elections in Karnataka in 2018, when the Congress and BJP claimed the seer was on their side, the seer himself made no statement, remaining neutral.

The most quoted episode of the seer's stand on a political issue is when the Babri Masjid was demolished. The seer had condemned it when most stayed away considering the volatile situation. His death too united them all with BJP’s Yedyurappa, JDS’ Kumaraswamy and G Parameshwara from the Congress together making the announcement.

Fondly remembered as “Nadedaaduva Devaru” (walking god), Siddaganga Shri's Shree Siddaganga Educational Society established more than 130 educational institutions, including charitable institutions, providing education in varied subjects ranging from Sanskrit, engineering and technology. His mutt (ashram) houses more than 8,500 students from different religion and caste who are given free education, food and shelter.

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