The Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka on Friday granted minority status to the Lingayat community, days after accepting Nagamohan Das committee’s recommendation to do so, News18 reported.

The Karnataka Minority Welfare Department has issued a notification classifying Lingayats as minorities. The notification says that whoever follows the Basava philosophy will be considered a Lingayat, according to the News18 report.

The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has criticised the Congress government in poll-bound Karnataka for its decision. Karnataka BJP President BS Yeddyurappa has called an “election gimmick”. Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal has accused Siddaramaiah of dividing the Hindu community for votes.

The notification was issued despite opposition from the Veerashaiva community. The All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha said in Bengaluru on Friday that it was clear the Karnataka government had made this decision only with the upcoming elections in mind. “If you are really interested in the community, say Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same,” a Mahasabha leader said at a press conference. “Except this, the government is saying everything else. Don’t create differences between people and within the community.”

Lingayats, who are classified as Other Backward Classes, are considered the single-largest community in the state, with their population estimated at anywhere between 11.5% and 19%. Since their vote is widely believed to be decisive in 110 of the 224 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka, Lingayats are also considered politically powerful.