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Seer fasts for revised Panchamsali reservation

Basava Jaya Mrutyunjaya Swami, seer of the Panchamasali Peetha, held a one-day symbolic fast in front of the Suvarna Soudha in Belagavi district on Wednesday, seeking inclusion of Panchamsali community among the most backward classes under 2A category.

The seer came in a car with a solar roof, waving a saffron flag. He garlanded the statues of Basaveshwara, Rani Channamma, Ambedkar and Sangolli Rayanna before moving to the Suvarna Soudha.

He said a statue of Rani Channamma, who belonged to the Panchamsali community, should be erected in front of the Suvarna Soudha.

District in-charge Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, Rajya Sabha member Eeranna Kadadi, former Minister Vinay Kulkarni, and former MLA and district BJP president Sanjay Patil met the seer to express solidarity with him.

The seer told journalists that the Panchamsali community, the largest sub-caste of Lingayats in terms of numbers, had been deprived socially and economically. It was presently in the 3B category of Other Backward Classes. This category covers 85 caste groups with only five per cent reservation. “We want to be shifted to 2A that has fewer caste groups, but has 15 per cent reservation. This means that the chances of our youth getting education and employment benefits is increased three times.”

He defended his demand by saying that Panchamsalis were as backward as the other caste groups in 2A category. Over 90 per cent of the community members are either farmers or farm labourers. They have suffered losses since the 90s when agriculture became less remunerative. They have not been able to send their children to good schools or colleges. There is a generation of talented Panchamsali youth who have not got the opportunities they deserve, he claimed.

He said he would appeal to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to recall the support given to him by the community since his initial days in politics. “We have been making this demand before every government till now, but it was not accepted. Now that we have a Lingayat Chief Minister, we are hopeful of getting our demands met.”

He said that his demand for a separate Lingayat religion was not in contravention of the demand for reservation for Lingayat sub-sects. “They are two different things and the demands are made before two different platforms. While the Central government has to grant us the minority tag, it is the State government that has to readjust our reservation categories. I am actively involved in both the agitations.’’

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