In the Indian state of Karnataka, the cabinet (on the recommendation of the State Minorities Commission) has voted to grant the status of a separate religious minority to Lingayats, instead of treating them as a Hindu sect. More controversially, the cabinet also voted to include Veerashaivas as part of the same community. Lingayats, and Veerashaivas constitute 17% of the state’s population. India West and The Mirror report that the move is seen as an attempt by the ruling Congress party to attract the sect’s votes away from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in the state assembly elections that will be held in April and May. The cabinet recommendation now goes to the central government for approval under §2(c) of the Central Minority Commission Act.