Bengaluru, Nov 17 (IANS) Karnataka would soon set up a development board for the betterment of Veerashaiva-Lingayat community in the southern state, an official said on Tuesday.
“Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa directed state chief secretary T.M, Vijay Bhaskar to constitute a Karnataka Veerashaiva-Lingayat Development Board for the socio-economic improvement of the dominant community in the state,” a Social Welfare department official told IANS here.
The decision to set up the board came three days after Yediyurappa on Saturday directed the department to form a Maratha Development Authority with Rs 50-crore corpus for the welfare of Marathas living in the state.
The dominant Lingayat community is estimate to account for 16 per cent of the state’s 7-crore population.
Incidentally, Yediyarappa is considered the tallest Lingayat leader in the state though the community is considered economically and socially backward.
“Veerashaiva-Lingayats form a large community in the state, many of whom are economically, socially and educationally backward,” Yediyurappa said in a note to Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar.
“The board will work for the overall development of the community,” said the Chief Minister.
Several Lingayat legislators of the ruling BJP, opposition Congress and JD-S urged Yediyurappa to set up the board for the Lingayat sect, whose members are more than other communities across the state.
Congress lawmaker M.B. Patil and JD-S senior legislator Basaraj Horatti also urged the Chief Minister to make 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Lingayats, as Maharashtra has done for Marathas in the neighbouring state.
The state’s northwest region was part of the Bombay Province and northern region of the erstwhile Hyderabad-Karnataka region before they were merged with the southern region in the Madras Presidency to form Mysore on November 1, 1956 for the reorganisation of the states across the country.
According to Sakala Maratha Samaj president Keshavanathrao Jadav, the Marathas have been living in Karnataka over the centuries as they took part in the Anglo-Mysore wars since the 17th century and settled in the southern state and became part of Kannadigas.
“Though our forefathers were from Maharashtra, we migrated to the erstwhile Mysore state to wage a war in favour of Kannadigas against the British,” Jadav recalled.
The community has been urging the state government to include Marathas under 2A list of backward classes to benefit from reservation in jobs and seats in educational colleges.
The decision to set up the authority comes ahead of the by-election to Basavakalyan assembly segment in the state’s northern border district Bidar where hundreds of Marathas live.
Though the Election Commission is yet to announce the poll date, the by-election has been caused due to the death of its Congress legislator B. Narayan Rao due to Covid-19 at a private hospital in Bengaluru on September 24.
The assembly constituency also has a substantial number of Maratha and Lingayat voters, to which Yediyurappa belongs to.
Ahead of the November 3 by-election in the Sira assembly segment in Tumakuru district, the state government on September 29 had set up the Kaadu Golla Development Board to woo the Telugu-speaking Golla community, which has a substantial number of voters.
The ruling BJP’s candidate Raju Gowda wrested the seat from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), whose sitting legislator B. Satyanarayana’s death on August 4 in the city caused the by-election.
Vokkaligas, the second-most powerful caste after the Lingayats, are also demanding a development board for their community.
Former Prime Minister and JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, former state chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and the Congress state unit president D.K. Shivakumar are Vokkaligas.
“Vokkaligas also deserve a development board on the lines of the one being set up for Lingayats and Marathas,” said BJP’s Bengaluru legislator S.R. Vishwanath.
The state has also a Brahmin and Arya Vaishya Development Corporations for the upper castes.
About 100 castes come under the Backward Classes Development Corporation.