Karnataka polls: Vokkaliga seer flays BJP govt on quota re-distribution

Criticism of Bommai govt’s recent move to abolish Muslim quota and distribute it among Vokkaligas and Lingayats has come as a major setback for the BJP

Vokkaliga seer, Nanjavadhuta Swamiji. recervation, Karnataka, Bommai govt
Vokkaliga seer Nanjavadhuta Swamiji -- of Spatikapuri Mahasansthan Math -- said the community is not willing to snatch other’s food

The abolishing of the four per cent reservation category 2B meant for Muslims and distributing it among Vokkaligas and Lingayats by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai recently has not gone down well with a popular Vokkaliga seer. The seer objected to the move and said that the community was not willing to snatch other’s food.

This is not good news for the BJP which has been trying to spread its base among the Vokkaligas. The recent reservation move and the earlier deification of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, two unknown personalities, as those who killed Tipu Sultan in the Anglo-Mysore war, were steps in this direction.

A minister had even announced a movie on the ‘fictional’ Gowda characters, which he had to shelve after the head of Adichunchanagiri Math, Nirmalananda Swamiji, asked him to stop saying there was no historical evidence to prove their existence.

Also read: Karnataka: Muslim leaders to move court against abolition of 4% quota

Another setback

Now, criticism by Vokkaliga seer Nanjavadhuta Swamiji — of Spatikapuri Mahasansthan Math — of the Bommai government’s move to give reservation earmarked for Muslims to Vokkaligas and Lingayats is another setback for the BJP.

The seer’s speech went viral on social media and the Congress asked the CM to answer the seer. Interestingly, the seer was a part of the delegation of Vokkaliga leaders and ministers that demanded 15 per cent reservation in November 2022. The government had later moved the Vokkaligas and Lingayats from Categories 3A and 3B to 2C and 2D, respectively.

The Vokkaliga seer, speaking at a programme in Mandya on Monday, while commenting on the increase in reservation from 4 per cent to 6 per cent under the newly created categories 2C and 2D, said, “We have asked (for an increase) from 4 to 15 per cent reservation. But the government snatched it from someone and added 2 per cent more for us.”

“Vokkaligas are not willing to snatch anyone’s food and eat. Vokkalu Makkalu (Vokkaligas) are people who distribute food to others and eat the remaining food themselves. The percentage given to Vokkaligas is like ‘Bakasurana hottege are pavina majjige’ (a Kannada proverb which says, ‘little buttermilk to fill the stomach of Bakasura’, the giant referred to in Mahabharata), he opined.

Demanding justice

“Vokkaliga is a big community which has 15 to 16 per cent population of the state. Four per cent you have given to us and we have to distribute it further…we Vokkalugas are losing every opportunity. So we need justice,” he demanded.

He also indirectly criticised the government. “There is no development, but you provide all the facilities at the doorsteps of people. Roads are not good, there is no irrigation system. No basic amenities. Eventually, those same people will turn on you,” he said, adding, “governments have to create a working class. We should make our people self-reliant and economically strong. Such projects should be brought into this system.”

Shifting reservations

The BJP government recently moved Vokkaligas and Lingayats into reservation categories 2C and 2D, respectively, under the Other Backward Classes. The Kodavas and Banajigas, who were in the now-abolished 3A category with the Vokkaligas, too have been moved to 2C.

Similarly, 4 per cent quota given to the Muslims under 2B Category was abolished and the community was moved to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category recently.

Also read: Karnataka: Protestors seeking reservation pelt stones at Yediyurappa’s house

CS Dwarkanath, former chairman of Backward Class Commission and now representing the Muslim Community Awareness Committee, told the media recently that “Muslims cannot be included in EWS as it is only for socially strong but economically weaker communities. No commission has ever said that Muslims are economically weak. But many studies have concluded that Muslims are socially and educationally backward.”

“These studies should have been done to make changes to the OBC list. Moreover, the logic of replacing categories 3A and 3B with 2C and 2D is not understood. Only the name has changed, the composition has not. There are many communities among Lingayats and Vokkaligas. How can you deny others the benefits of 4 per cent reservation? How can we ensure that the reservation that is now allotted is only for Lingayats and VOkkaligas?” he said adding, “This action has been taken keeping in mind short-term political gains.”