Bengaluru: The All India Veershaiva Mahasabha on Friday said both Veershaiva and Lingayats were one and condemned the Karnataka government’s decision to carve out a difference between the two.

“This is an attempt to break the community,"said Shyamnur Shivashankarappa, president of the Mahasabha, considered by many within the community as its representative body. 

However, the Mahasabha said that they do not oppose the minority religion tag accorded to the community. 

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka had passed a cabinet decision on Monday aiming to split the Lingayat community--believed to single largest community in the state--votes that has largely sided with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

The cabinet’s decision comes at a time when the Congress is taking measures to stall the BJP’s efforts to return to power in Karnataka in the upcoming assembly elections due later this year.

The cabinet note had mentioned that those Veershaiva’s who follow Basava Thathva (teachings of 12th century social reformer Basavanna) will be considered as Lingayats. 

By mentioning both Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats separately, the cabinet chose to introduce some level of ambiguity into the original recommendation to pacify disgruntled Veerashaivas community, who feared being left out of the separate minority religion movement led by water resources minister M.B. Patil.

The 113-year-old Mahasabha called the move of the government mischievous and pursued with electoral gains in mind. 

“The (state) government is responsible for all this mischief," N. Thippanna, senior vice president of the Mahasabha said. 

The representative body said that it had given a memorandum to the centre in 2013 seeking to get a religious minority status for Veershaiva and Lingayats. The centre is yet to decide on the memorandum and the Mahasabha will request the centre to move this request forward.