Despite government warning, pro-Kannada organisations on Friday decided to go ahead with the Karnataka Bandh on December 5 in protest against the formation of the Maratha Development Authority (MDA). Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had on November 13 announced setting up the MDA, earmarking Rs 50 crore for the overall development of the Maratha population in the state.
The move was seen in some quarters as an attempt to woo the sizeable community members in Basavakalyan Assembly segment in Bidar district in north Karnataka and Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency bordering Maharashtra where by-elections are due. The decision has not gone down well with several pro-Kannada organisations.
The consortium of the pro-Kannada organisations such as Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha (KCVP) and Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (Shivarame Gowda faction) passed a resolution opposing the government move and deciding to stage the bandh. The Ola-Uber Drivers and Owners Association too has extended its support to the bandh.
In a statement, KCVP chief Vatal Nagaraj claimed support of the former chief of the Kannada Development Authority Mukhyamantri Chandru and former head of the Kannada Film Chamber of Commerce, Sa Ra Govindu, among others, for the consortium. However, two other factions of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike belonging to T A Narayana Gowda and Praveen Shetty have said they would take a call only after discussing with their leaders.
As the matter snowballed into a controversy after his announcement, Yediyurappa clarified that he was only setting up the Maratha Development Authority and not the Marathi Development Authority. He stated that Maratha community members are ”staunch Hindutvavadis”, many of whom need to be elevated socially and economically.
The Chief Minister had warned that he would not allow any ’forced bandh’ on December 5. ”We will take strict action if the forced bandh is called,” he had said.