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North Karnataka statehood: Politics takes over the genuine issue

For that matter, the separate North Karnataka state issue has more to do with upcoming Lok Sabha elections than it has to do with the issues of people from North Karnataka.

 

Despite the opposition by several organisations, the Uttara Kannada Raitha Sangha has decided to observe a bandh in 13 districts of North Karnataka demanding a separate state. On Tuesday, the pro-statehood activists even planned to unfurl the north Karnataka flag in Belgavi where the Suvarna Soudha is situated. The demand is being raised on the pretext of “step-motherly” treatment meted out to the region by the Congress-JD(S) government in the state. While chief Minister Kumaraswamy who himself is from South Karnataka has come under tremendous pressure to quell this discontent, for opposition BJP the issue is a perfect opportunity to attack the Congress-JD(S) government.

In the Karnataka Assembly elections, BJP emerged as the single largest party but fell short of a majority. Everyone is well aware of the drama that followed in the 15 days’ period given to BJP to prove the majority in the Assembly. While resigning from the post of CM, the more determined than before BS Yeddyurappa, however, said that the party will now work towards fulfilling the dream of PM Modi to win the maximum seat in Lok Sabha elections.

North Karnataka
Image Source: Karnataka.com

The BJP has been attacking Congress-JD(S) alliance over the difference of opinions between the governing parties. Within two months of forming the government, the alliance has been surrounded with aspersions of instability. At the time when the campaigning for 2019 Lok Sabha election has kick-started, the Separate North Karnataka issue has landed in BJP’s lap at a perfect time.

In Karnataka, there are three major parties: Congress, BJP and JD(S). While South Karnataka is the stronghold of JD(S), North Karnataka relatively remains a stronghold of BJP. Congress has a significant presence all over the state and has hold especially in the urban areas. This was even reflected in the recent Karnataka Assembly Elections results. The North Karnataka comprises of two regions: Bombay-Karnataka and Hyderabad-Karnataka.

North Karnataka
Image Source: Karnataka.com

The Bombay-Karnataka region includes Karwar, Uttar Kannada, Vijayapura, Belagavi, Bagalkot, Haveri, Dharwar, and Gadag. As many as 44 seats went to polls in this region. The BJP won more than half of the seats in this region i.e. 26, while Congress won 16 seats and JD(S) only 2. Incidentally, BJP improved its 2013 performance in the region while Congress lost 10 seats. On the other hand, in Hyderabad-Karnataka region BJP gained 11 seats more than the previous election. Congress, however, won only 3 more. On the other hand, in South Karnataka’s Old Mysore region, BJP won only 15 seats out of 66 seats. Congress won 20 while JD(S) won the most 30 seats.

North Karnataka
Image Source: Karnataka.com

Moreover, most of the North Karnataka is dominated by Lingayat while in South Karnataka Vokkaligas are dominant. Lingayats have traditionally voted for BJP and continue to do so. While Vokkaliga has thrown their weight behind Congress and JD(S). With South Karnataka already out of its base, the only reason why BJP is holding on to the issue is the rich dividends in the North Karnataka region.

For that matter, the separate North Karnataka state issue has more to do with upcoming Lok Sabha elections than it has to do with the issues of people from North Karnataka. It is even more obvious now that 20 prominent North Karnataka activists and organizations have refused to support the demand and August, 2 Bandh.

North Karnataka
Image Source: @BSYBJP

Sensing the raging issue, BJP tried to exploit the pro-statehood demand. BJP MLA from Bellary B Sriramulu even said that he is ready to resign over separate statehood demand. However, the party sensed that by supporting the demand it will be playing with a fire. In no time, the party completely somersaulted over the issue and party state chief BS Yeddyurappa even went to Belgavi to request protestors to drop the separate state demand.

However, even if the BJP has decided to not support the separate state demand, it will keep the fire alight in the North Karnataka vs South Karnataka divide.

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