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Congress Made a Mistake by Dividing Lingayat Community, Says DK Shivakumar

The minister expressed his views stating that many within the Congress too were opposed to the separate religious status.

Stacy Pereira | CNN-News18

Updated:October 18, 2018, 11:24 PM IST

Bengaluru: Putting the Karnataka Congress in an embarrassing situation, Water Resources & medical Education Minister DK Shivkumar, in a public meeting on Wednesday, admitted that the decision by the party to accord separate religion status to Lingayats perhaps had backfired and that people should forgive the party for making this mistake.

The minister was addressing the Dussehra Dharmasamelan attended by the Rambhapuri Seer, Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami in Gadag when he expressed his views stating that many within the Congress too were opposed to the separate religious status. However, the then government had taken a stand.

"There were a lot of political developments happening then. But no government must intervene in matters of religion. Recently concluded events (Assembly polls) have reflected the people's sentiments on this matter," he added.

Speaking to CNN-News 18, DK Shivkumar clarified that these were his personal views and he felt that being a people’s representative he had wronged them. But could his statements cause more rifts within the Congress, as many Lingayat leaders from the party, like MB Patil, Vinay Kulkarni, were among the front-runners in this fight for a separate religion?

Shivakumar, the Congress' crisis management man, said that there was no reason for in-fighting within the party as the decision taken then had yielded no results and that was for everyone to see. The congress did lose out on the community votes especially in the norther parts of Karnataka which is pre-dominantly the Lingayat belt.

The previous Karnataka Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah on March 19 had accorded minority religion status to the Lingayat community just ahead of the Assembly elections in the state. This had created quiet a stir, with the opposition BJP claiming that the Congress was indulging in divisive politics.

With the Lok Sabha elections not far away, could this statement by DK Shivkumar be a new strategy by the Congress to woo the Lingayat community? Or will it lead to further rifts within the Congress, one will have to wait and watch.

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