I will never disown Lingayat movement as it is my identity: Patil

Lingayats constitute more than 10 per cent of the total population in Maharashtra.

Hubballi: Contrary to the statements of prominent Lingayat leaders Vinay Kulkarni and Basavaraj Horatti who had claimed that the movement for separate religion status for Lingayats has become irrelevant, Home Minister M.B. Patil claimed that he will never disown the movement as it is part of his identity.

Addressing press persons here on Sunday, he said the Lok Sabha elections are not being fought on the Lingayat issue nor has it been included in the manifesto of the Congress. Asserting that he will speak on the issue only after the parliamentary elections are over, he denied reports that he had lodged a complaint with AICC president Rahul Gandhi against Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar.

"I have already reacted to the action of D.K. Shivakumar seeking a public apology from the party on the Lingayat issue and will speak more about it only after the Lok Sabha elections. It is not appropriate to speak about religion or caste during elections", Patil said.

Clarifying that religion is a personal matter, he said that there is no need to use it during the election. He also asserted that Vinay Kulkarni and Basavaraj Horatti have the right to express their personal view on the Lingayat movement.

Earlier, Patil had launched a broadside against Shivakumar for his move to make a public apology for recommending independent religion status for the community to the Centre during the tenure of the previous Congress government. Sources said that this development has prompted the party high command to give strict directions to both Patil and Shivakumar to remain tightlipped and not to indulge in a verbal fight on the Lingayat issue as it may adversely affect the prospect of the Congress in the parliamentary elections.

Moreover, party leaders are in a dilemma after the Congress unit in Maharashtra extended support to the demand for independent religion status. Lingayats constitute more than 10 per cent of the total population in Maharashtra. Therefore, party leaders in Karnataka have been directed not to speak anything on the Lingayat movement now.

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