Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Tuesday accused Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of dividing the Hindu community for votes. On Monday, the Karnataka government had accepted the recommendation of the Nagamohan Das committee to recognise the Lingayat community as a separate religion.

“The Lingayat community is a part of Hinduism,” the minister of state for parliamentary affairs said. “The matter of [classifying] Lingayat as a separate religion is being brought up to fulfil political goals and divide Hindus.”

Highlighting that Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party President BS Yeddyurappa is from the Lingayat community, Meghwal alleged that the Congress’ decision was aimed at dividing the votes and preventing Yeddyurappa from becoming the chief minister after the Assembly elections later this year.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa, who is also the president of the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha, on Tuesday said his organisation did not agree with the Karnataka government’s decision.

“Yesterday’s decision is one-sided, and we stick to our stand that Veerashaiva and Lingayat are one and the same,” The Times of India quoted him as saying. He said the matter would be discussed at a meeting of the Mahasabha on Friday.

“We would have been happy had the state government recommended religious minority recognition to Lingayats and Veerashaivas,” Deccan Herald quoted Shivashankarappa as saying. “The inclusion of the point of the Basava philosophy is wrong. It is up to people to believe the Basava philosophy.”

Shivashankarappa said the Nagamohan Das committee’s report had incorrectly claimed that the Veerashaiva faith did not exist before the 12th century.