Just ahead of the state elections, the Congress government in Karnataka has decided to grant minority status to Lingayats. Lingayats form 17% of the vote bank in the state and many support the BJP. The state cabinet has recommended separate religion status to Lingayats. The opposition BJP has criticised Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for trying to play the religion card to win the elections and Congress hit back at the BJP saying that former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa had promised to grant minority status to Siddaramaiah. This is a move that could divide the votes, and the ball is now in the central government's court.