The Karnataka government’s decision to announce a 2D reservation category under Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for the influential Panchamasali sub-sect of the Lingayat community has not gone down well.
The faction led by Kudalasangama Panchamasali Peetha pontiff Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swami and BJP leader and Vijayapura MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal is opposing the new category announced for this sect.
On 29 December, the last day of the Karnataka Assembly’s winter session, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy announced a new OBC reservation category for the Panchamasalis and Vokkaligas (the dominant community in the old Mysuru region).
The state government created new reservation categories — 2C and 2D — for the Vokkaligas and the Panchamasalis, respectively.
Earlier, these two influential and dominant communities were in the 3A and 3B reservation categories, both of which have now been abolished.
The other communities that fall under these two old reservation categories have also been accommodated in the 2C and 2D categories.
Expressing anguish over the Basavaraj Bommai-led Karnataka government’s decision, Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya Swami told South First, “We oppose the new 2D reservation category announced for the Panchamasalis. There is no difference in the new category (2D) compared to the previous one. There is no clarity on the quota.”
He added, “We have been agitating for the past two and half years demanding 2A reservation category under the OBC. The government has failed to meet our demand.”
“The government is claiming that it will announce the reservations for the sect only after the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes (KSCBC) submits its report and finalises the quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). The commission is likely to submit the report after three months, when polls will be underway in Karnataka,” he pointed out.
The pontiff, cautioning the ruling party, said, “The government has no authority to announce reservation at the time of elections. The community will teach a befitting lesson to the BJP government in the Assembly polls.”
He reiterated, “Even the community leaders across party lines are unhappy with the government’s decision regarding the new categories. We will continue to fight until we get justice.”
South First reached out to BJP leader and Hubballi-Dharwad West MLA Arvind Bellad for a comment on the issue.
He said, “I am yet to look into the government order on this new category to the sect. I will comment later on the matter.”
A deserved upgrade?
Under the 3B category, the Panchamasalis were entitled to a 5-percent reservation. Now, the sect will receive the same percentage of quota under the new 2D category.
Demanding more clarity on the new category, All India Lingayat Panchamasali Mahasabha president Vijayanand Kashappanavar told South First, “We have not welcomed the government’s decision of providing a new 2D category for the Panchamasalis. There is no clarity on the new category.”
He added: “We had demanded that the government include us in the 2A category, which provides a 15 percent quota. Without announcing proper reservation, they have announced a 2D category for the sect. We continue to demand a 15 percent quota.”
The Basava Jaya Mruthyunjaya faction held a meeting on the matter at Belagavi. Sect leaders from across party lines, including MLAs like Laxmi Hebbalkar, took part in the meeting.
“We discussed the new 2D reservation category, expected quota and further plan to continue our agitation to demand justice. We are asking for reservations only for education and employment. We will continue our agitation for the 15 percent reservation,” Kashappanavar told South First.
Vokkaligas’ new category
While announcing the 2D reservation category for the Panchamasalis, the Karnataka government also declared a new 2C quota for the Vokkaligas, who were demanding a quota hike of 8 percent from the existing 4 percent.
Opposing this, the pontiff told South First, “We had to fight and agitate for over two and half years to get a quota hike for our sect. Meanwhile, the government is hiking the quota for the Vokkaligas without any report from the backward classes commission.”
It may also be noted that when a BJP Vokkaliga leaders’ delegation — led by Minister for Revenue R Ashok — submitted a memorandum to the chief minister seeking an 8 percent hike in quota for the community, Bommai stated that the government would take a decision after the backward classes commission submitted its report on the socio-economic status of the community.
The government, however, announced its decision despite the lack of a report by the commission on the Vokkaligas. This caused further agitation among the Panchamasalis sect.
More about the report
Bommai recently ordered the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes to conduct a detailed study on the socio-economic status of the Vokkaliga community.
KSCBC Chairman Jayaprakash Hegde told South First, “The chief minister has ordered a study on the social and economic status of the Vokkaliga community. We are yet to begin a study on this community.”
He added, “The government has the authority to enhance the categories for the communities. However, the quota will be decided based on the final report by the commission.”
Regarding the socio-economic study on the Panchamasalis, Hegde said, “We have finished half the work and the remaining study will be completed at the earliest. We have submitted only an interim report to the government.”
In 2019, on the orders of the then-chief minister BS Yediyurappa, the commission started a survey and study on the socio-economic status of the Panchamasali sect.