Mysuru: Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, on Saturday said he was prodded by Lingayat leaders to recommend a reservation for them, and that his government's recommendation to the Centre to grant religious minority status had led to opposition unleashing false propaganda against him.

Siddaramaiah stated this while participating in the groundbreaking ceremony of a school in Chamarajanagar district. The Lingayat sect was founded by the 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara, whose belief revolved around social justice, benevolence and piety instead of orthodoxical rituals and casteism prevailing during his time.

"When I was the chief minister, seers following Basaveshwara's philosophy insisted that I give the religion tag to the Lingayat sect. It was they who persuaded me," Siddaramaiah said.

Recollecting how Buddhism and various sects emerged to give social justice to the downtrodden, Siddaramaiah recalled how the movement to recommend the grant of religion tag to Lingayats gained momentum ahead of the May 2018 Assembly polls.

He said the head of the Lingayat and Veerashaiva sects had demanded that the new religion is named either Lingayat or Veerashaiva. As a middle path suggested by prominent Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa and endorsed by other Lingayat leaders, it was decided the new sect be known as Lingayat Veerashaiva sect, who have faith in Basaveshwara.

"What was wrong in that? What was my mistake? But that led to false propaganda against me (by BJP) that’s the reason that I am cautious while talking about religion," he said.

The state cabinet had on March 19 decided to recommend to the Centre grant of religious minority tag for the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community.

The decision was based on the report of an expert committee that had recommended considering grant of recognition as a religious minority to the Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayats (Believers of Basava Tatva (philosophy).

Subsequently, the Karnataka minorities welfare department notified the Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats as a religious minority but said it would come into effect after the Centre's approval to the state recommendation.

(With inputs from PTI)