Karnataka’s reservation conundrum: Bending backward for forward castes

The Panchamasalis, one of the largest sub-sects within the dominant Lingayat community, are demanding that they be moved from the 3B category of OBC, which assures 5% reservation, to the 2A category, which assures 15% reservation | All photos by Prabhu Mallikarjunan

On January 14, Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swami, the seer of the Lingayat Panchamasali Mutt in Kudala Sangama in Bagalkot district, started his 450-km padayatra (walkathon) demanding change in reservation categorisation for Panchamasali Lingayats within the state’s Other Backward Caste (OBC) list.

The Panchamasalis, one of the largest sub-sects within the dominant Lingayat community, are demanding that they be moved from the 3B category of OBC, which assures 5% reservation, to the 2A category, which assures 15% reservation.

As a symbolic move, the seer started his journey from Kudala Sangama, the resting place of Basavanna, the founder of the Lingayat sect in the Hindu religion. The seer’s rally concluded in Bengaluru on Sunday (February 21), with a mass convention in Palace Grounds.

The seer, who enjoys significant political clout, with the backing of several Lingayat leaders in the state cabinet, threatened Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who hails from the same community, that he may lose the support of the community if their demand is not met. He also threatened to lay siege to the state Assembly from February 22 and go on an indefinite hunger strike to pressure the state government to meet his demands.

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