Shri Basavalinga Pattadevaru, the pontiff of Bhalki Hirematha, who also heads the Anubhav Mantap at Basavakalyana, played a prominent role in the movement for according separate religion status to Lingayats. But after most Congress leaders, who were in the forefront of the movement suffered a setback in the previous Assembly election, the movement has been pushed to the backstage. Surprisingly leaders such as Home Minister M.B. Patil, former Minister Dr Sharanprakash Patil, former legislators B.R. Patil and others, who earlier declared that Veerashaivas and Lingayats were different, are now saying that both groups are one and the same. Have these politicians changed their stance to suit their political convenience? In an interview with
K.N. Reddy, Shri Pattadevaru spoke about where the movement stands now and whether he approves of the change in the stance of these leaders.
Here are excerpts.
In the previous Assembly election, separate religion tag for Lingayats was a major issue. What is its status now?
Whether the government accords its consent or not or, the movement will continue till we reach our goal. There is no compromise on the issue. We decided to keep the movement on a low during the election.Once the elections are over, it will be taken up again.
Is the setback that political leaders who were in the forefront of the movement suffered the reason for this decision?
We have decided not to link our movement with the election; that’s why we have not raised this issue in this election. We will hold a meeting under the aegis of the Jagatika Lingayat Samsthe after the polls and take a decision on reviving the movement.
Recently a convention of Veerashaiva- Lingayats was held at Kalaburagi. Senior leaders such as Home Minister M.B. Patil, former Minister Dr Sharanprakash Patil and former legislator B.R. Patil, who earlier claimed the Veerashaivas and Lingayats are different, are now saying that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same. Do you approve of this change in their stance?
We don’t agree with the view that Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same. Though we are for unity between these two groups, the tatva-sidhanta (philosophy and ideology) of the two sects is different. There is no compromise on the argument the Lingayatism is a separate religion. The movement started from the Kalyana Nadu (Bidar) under my leadership and involved Maataji (late Maate Mahadevi) and other religious heads. Politicians were not in the picture when we started it. It’s for them (politicians) to decide whether to associate with us or not. But we the swamijis will take it forward.
But do you respect such leaders who change their stance as per their convenience?
You should put the question to these leaders.
Will such a dual stand not harm the reputation of the movement?
I fail to understand what stand these political leaders take. This movement was born due to the initiative taken by swamijis and there is no change in our ideology-philosophy. We have not diluted our ideology-philosophy to suit the convenience of some political leaders.
Bidar district played a prominent role in the movement for separate Lingayat religion. KPCC Working President Eshwar Khandre, who opposed the movement, is in the fray as the Congress candidate. Will the Jaagatika Lingayat Mahasabha make an appeal to Lingayats to vote against Mr Khandre in the April 23 poll for opposing the movement or leave the decision to their wisdom?
We don’t interfere in the election and not give a call for any group to vote for any candidate. We confine ourselves to religious activities.