Bengaluru: After facing flak for the theory that he engineered the political turbulence in the state, former chief minister Siddaramaiah is at the receiving end yet again.

However, this time, it is not about the political upheaval in the state, it is about the Lingayat row.

On Saturday (July 28) Siddaramaiah had said in a book release function thus: “Just like Jainism and Buddhism, Lingayat faith is also a separate religion. It is neither inside Hinduism nor outside Hinduism. However, it is my personal thought.”

Less than 24 hours of making such a controversial statement, another Congress leader Shamanuru Shivashankarappa, who was the head of the Veerashaiva Mahasabha has hit out at the former chief minister.

“Last year too, he was at the forefront of splitting the religion. Now too, he is trying to do it. Why does he resort to such things? Is he a Lingayat in the first place?” he thundered.

Earlier last year, just before the Assembly elections, the then chief minister Siddaramaiah had recommended granting separate religion tag for the Lingayat faith.

He had received a lot of flak then as many saw it as a plot to split Hinduism and thereby, the votes. He was even portrayed as a villain in the entire issue. It is another matter that the Congress went on to win less than 80 seats and subsequently only one seat in this year’s Lok Sabha elections.

Shamanur Shivashankarappa, in a further reaction to Siddaramaiah’s thoughts said, “Both Lingayats and Veerashaivas are like two faces of the same coin. It is not right to split them.”

It might be recalled that Dr Shivakumara Swamiji, the pontiff of Siddaganga Mutt, now deceased, had not minced words when he said both Lingayats and Veerashaivas are not different but the same.

His statement had given a massive boost to those who fought to keep Lingayats within Hinduism.