Bengaluru: The tit-for-tat between senior Congress leaders over separate religion tag for Lingayats showed no signs of abating with water resources minister M B Patil responding to Akhila Bharat Veerashaiva Mahasabha president Shamanur Shivashankarappa’s barb with a suggestion that the veteran leader consult seers supporting agitations in order to update his awareness on Basavanna’s philosophy.
In a statement released here on Saturday, Mr Patil said it was unbecoming on the part of a leader of his stature to air comments in a casual manner.
In fact, he never wanted police security but was the decision to provide security to Mr Basavaraj Horatti, former bureaucrat S M Jamdar and himself was taken by the state government in the light of threatening calls to some seers backing the agitation for separate religion status for Lingayats. It was unwarranted to state that he should have filed a police complaint about threat to his life, he added.
The minister also reminded Mr Shamanur Shivashankarappa that the seer of Taralabalu Math, who knew a great deal about principles of Basavanna and his followers, had already declared that according to him Lingayat dharma was a separate religion, and that he was bothered whether the government would fulfil this demand or not.
“I have high regards for Mr Shamanur Shivashankarappa but this does not mean that he can ridicule me by calling me a baccha,” he added.
Several ministers of the Siddaramaiah government such as M.B. Patil, Mines and Geology Minister Vinay Kulkarni, Medical Education Minister Dr Sharan Prakash Patil and Municipal Administration Minister Eshwar Khandre have been openly supporting the cause of Lingayats and had been taking a lead in holding conventions to this effect.
Sources told Deccan Chronicle that a few pontiffs and their followers had accused Mr Jamdhar of prompting the Congress ministers to rake up this issue just a few months before the 2018 Assembly polls.
The police intelligence sleuths are learnt to have gathered information about a possible threat to the lives of Mr Jamdhar, Janata Dal (Secular) Floor Leader in the Legislative Council Basavaraj Horatti, M.B. Patil and Vinay Kulkarni and suggested police protection for them.
Based on this input, security has been scaled up for Mr Patil and Mr Kulkarni, and gunmen have been provided to both Mr Jamdhar and Mr Horatti.
The threatening calls were reportedly from North Karnataka districts and a hunt is on for these callers. It is said that some leaders of a political party are behind these threat calls/messages.