Political News, State, (New Delhi), February 28:-Congress president Rahul Gandhi did not visit Ingaleshwar, the birthplace of 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara, because of local leaders in Karnataka, the chief of a Lingayat institution claimed on Tuesday.
The head of the Virakta Math, Siddalinga Swami, also alleged that politics was being played in the name of religion, and that Gandhis visit to Ingaleshwar in Vijayapur district was cancelled at the last minute.
The Congress president was on a three-day visit to northern parts of poll-bound Karnataka and in his speeches attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he had quoted the sayings of Basaveshwara several times.
“Rahul Gandhis visit to Ingaleshwar was planned and even a road map was taken from us. However, his route was changed at the last minute by local Congress leaders. I don’t want to name them,” Swami said, in an apparent reference to state water resources minister M B Patil, who is from Vijayapur district.
The seer was in the national capital to invite the prime minister for unveiling of the Basaveshwar Vachana Silashasan Mantap next month.
The Gandhi family, including former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had close links with the institution, but now “we feel local leaders are deliberately keeping Rahul Gandhi from visiting such places,” he said.
On the Lingayat row in the state, Swami said, “Lingayat and Veerashaivas (communities) are one and the same.”
“Call us Lingayats or Veerashaivas, we demand a minority religion status for this community in line with Jains and Buddhists. Whether you give this status before the poll or after it, we don’t mind. But the issue should be resolved,” he told reporters.
Swami also urged the Congress not to use religion for political gains.
The Virakta Math has completed a project to carve Basaveshwaras writings called Vachanas (sayings) on stone.
Around 1,600 Vachanas have been inscribed on the stone and artists took 35 years to complete the project.
-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)