Pro-Kannada activist says forming Maratha board akin to handing over districts to Maharashtra

Pro-Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj has said they will go-ahead with the December 5 bandh as it is a matter of self-respect for the 6 crore Kannadigas and they do not need permission from the Karnataka government for this.

CM BS Yediyurappa had warned the pro-Kannada activists against the bandh saying there would be no “forced bandh” on December 5. The chief minister had said, “We will take strict action if the forced bandh is called.”

But Vatal Nagaraj terms the decision as ‘irresponsible’ and taken in haste without understanding how this will impact the state in the Supreme Court case with Maharashtra. In fact, Maharashtra in 2004 had moved Supreme Court for a settlement of the border dispute under Article 131(b) of the Constitution.

They have demanded 814 villages from Karnataka on the basis of the theory of a village being the unit of calculation, contiguity and enumerating linguistic population in each village.

Vatal adds, “The Maharashtra government says there are Marathi-speaking people in large numbers in these districts and hence they belong to them. Here, the state government says the Maratha Development Authority was formed because there are large numbers of Marathi-speaking people living in these districts. The state government is literally providing evidence to them. This is an easy way for them to defeat us in Supreme Court.”

The pro-Kannada activist also blames the BJP leadership for putting pressure on the CM to set up the Maratha Board. “Setting up this authority with such urgency is nothing but the BJP High Command putting pressure on the CM,” he told India Today TV.

He claims this has been done by the BJP keeping in mind the upcoming bypoll in Basavakalyan constituency that has a large number of Marathi-speaking people. “Just to garner votes, they are doing these tricky things, this is not good,” he added.

“In the name of language, they should not form any authority. I am demanding they revoke this decision. This is an election gimmick,” he said, adding that tomorrow people from Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Muslims will also demand separate authorities.

On November 13, CM Yediyurappa announced the setting up of the Maratha Development Authority. This was seen as a way to woo the sizeable population of Marathi-speaking folks in Basavakalyan Assembly segment in Bidar district of north Karnataka and Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency that lie on the borders with Maharashtra.

The chief minister had clarified that the Maratha community members are “staunch Hindutvavadis” and many of them need to be elevated socially and economically as the reason for the setting up of the Maratha Development Authority.

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