North Karnataka’s Demand for a Separate State Has Fizzled Out
BJP Karnataka president BY Yeddyurappa addressing the seers protesting in Belagavi. 
BJP Karnataka president BY Yeddyurappa addressing the seers protesting in Belagavi. (Photo Courtesy: Karnataka BJP)

North Karnataka’s Demand for a Separate State Has Fizzled Out

Hours before the bandh demanding statehood for north Karnataka, several organisations in the region have distanced themselves from the campaign for the state’s bifurcation.

Despite Chief Minister Kumaraswamy’s promise to shift some government offices to north Karnataka, Uttara Karnataka Horata Samiti, a forum of farmer and student unions from north Karnataka, had decided to go ahead with the bandh on 2 August.

However, several organisations including Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samithi, a forum representing 6 of 13 districts of the north Karnataka, refused to be part of the bandh.

‘Normal Life Won’t Be Affected’ Says Belagavi Police

Belagavi police officials said two organisations have sorted out permissions to hold protests on Thursday – Uttara Karnataka Horata Samiti in favour of bifurcation of the state, and Karnataka Rakshana Vedike against it.

Both protests will take place in different locations and the required security arrangements have been made. No additional forces have been called in by the Belagavi police so far.

The city administration has not announced a holiday for schools and colleges and police added that public transport services will operate as usual. Shopkeepers have been assured security to run their businesses without disruption.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Kumaraswamy had made an emotional appeal to the people of north Karnataka, saying:

Consider me as one among you (people of north Karnataka) ... Some people want to create a distance between us by indulging in false propaganda. I have plans and programmes to earn your love and affection.

Leaders from 6 of 13 NK Districts Won’t Support Bandh

Protesters holding a North Karnataka flag. 
Protesters holding a North Karnataka flag. 
Photo: The Quint

The demand for bifurcation took a big hit on Wednesday when the representatives from six districts of Hyderabad Karnataka (a region of north Karnataka neighbouring Telangana) refused to be part of the campaign.

Razak Ustaad, vice-president of Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samiti, said the bandh was called by leaders of the Bombay Karnataka, region and representatives from Hyderabad Karnataka were not consulted.

He warned that in case of a bifurcation of the state, the power would remain with the Bombay Karnataka region, and the Hyderabad Karnataka region would be ignored.

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) was to be established in Raichur (in Hyderabad Karnataka) but after lobbying it was shifted to Hubbali-Dharwad (in Bombay Karnataka). Article 371(J) provides reservation for student from Hyderabad Karnataka, but institutions in Bombay Karnataka refuse to provide it. So why should we support them?

Several Organisations Refuse to Back the Bandh

Several influential organisations in north Karnataka have also decided not to support the bandh.

Mahadayi Kalasa Banduri Horata Samanvaya Samiti (Mahadayi movement), Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (a pro-Kannada organisation), CITU and others have announced they would not support the demand for separate statehood.

Even the Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has announced its displeasure over demands for the bifurcation of the state. KCCI president VP Linganagoudar said the although north Karnataka was given inadequate funds in the state budget, bifurcation of the state is unacceptable.

Seers Demand Development, Not Separate State

Several religious leaders protesting in front of Suvarna Soudha in Belagavi on Wednesday insisted that they do not support the demand for a separate state and their protest was simply to get the region its due development.

Siddharama Swami of Nagnur Rudrakshi Mutt, one of the protesting seers, demanded more autonomy and funds for panchayats and urban local bodies in the region.

“People should not be forced to travel to Bengaluru to get their works done. The local bodies should be empowered to deal with the issues at the grassroots level,” he said.

They also demanded that the government machinery be decentralised. Key departments of the government should be shifted to Belagavi and a department should be exclusively working for the development of north Karnataka.

Although demands to bifurcate Karnataka have lost steam, the demand for better development is expected to gather momentum in the coming days.

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