India

BJP MP's caste certificate invalid, may lose Lok Sabha seat

BJP MP's caste certificate invalid, may lose Lok Sabha seat
Mahaswami, a Lingayat seer, was elected as an MP from Solapur Lok Sabha constituency, which is reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC), last year.

The state government’s district caste validity committee declared invalid the caste certificate of BJP MP Dr Jaisiddheshwar Shivacharya Mahaswami on Monday. The decision is likely to increase trouble for the BJP MP from Solapur as he may face disqualification from the Lok Sabha.

Mahaswami, a Lingayat seer, was elected as an MP from Solapur Lok Sabha constituency, which is reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC), last year. He had defeated Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’s Prakash Ambedkar in 2019.

Subsequent to his election, VBA leader Pramod Gaikwad and two others had complained that Mahaswami is a Lingayat but has been elected from the SC reserved Lok Sabha seat. Gaikwad had further alleged Mahaswami had obtained a bogus caste certificate in which his caste is deemed to be “Beda Jangam”, which falls under the SC category.

Following the complaint Mahaswami, through his lawyer, provided three documents including his father’s birth certificate of 1915 and two others to claim he belongs to “Beda Jangam” caste. He also referred to caste certificate of the same issued to him in 1982 by the competent authority in Akkalkot tehsil in Solpaur. “The Ligayant is a sect and can’t be termed as caste… All these complaints are politically motivated and are false complaints,” Santosh Navhkar, lawyer of Mahaswami, said in his submission to the committee.

However, the committee, after scrutinising records, issued an order stating that the caste certificate of Mahaswami is bogus and he belonged to “Jangam” community that falls under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category. “Not a single credible evidence was produced before the committee to prove his caste of Beda Jangam. All the evidences produced before the committee were provided after manipulating the records. Based on the evidences by complaints, it shows that Mahaswami is of Jangam, and not of Beda Jangam, caste,” stated the order.

The three-member district caste validity certificate also referred to caste of family members of Mahaswami including his nephew, Yogeshwar Sidhamayala, who has a caste certificate of Jangam caste, which falls under OBC. The committee has ordered to the competent authority to seize the false caste certificate of Mahaswami and file a written complaint before the judicial magistrate.

The complainant Gaikwad said he would move the Election Commission of India and Lok Sabha seeking Mahaswami’s disqualification. “Since he does not belong to SC, he should be disqualified. We will approach EC and Lok Sabha for it,” he added.

Maharaj’s lawyer said, “We will move the High Court against the committee’s order.”