The state wide bandh called by pro-Kannada groups in Karnataka on Saturday, opposing the government’s decision to create a corporation for Maratha community here has had no major impact on normal life so far, other than sporadic protests and demonstrations by burning effigies. Auto rickshaws, cabs, public transport buses and metro services are available as of now, also hotels and provision stores were open.
Though scarce, there is movement of vehicles on roads in various parts of the city and similar reports have come other parts of the state. Activists of several Kannada organisations who are gathering near the city’s Town Hall for staging demonstrations were detained and taken away by the police.
Protests have also been reported in Chamarajanagara, Bengaluru Rural, Gadag, Koppa, Hassan, Ramanagara, Chitradurga, Davangere, Bagalkote, Chikkamagaluru, Mandya among other districts so far. A coalition of Kannada organisations led by Vatal Nagaraj, have also planned to hold a protest rally in the city from Town Hall to Freedom Park, against the government’s decision, later in the day.
Police have made elaborate security arrangements in the city to see to that no untoward incidents take place. Security has been beefed up around Chief Minister’s official residence and home office here, where some activists have planned to lay siege.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is in Belagavi to attend the BJP’s state executive meeting. Yediyurappa on Friday had urged the pro-Kannada groups not to go ahead with the bandh, calling it ”unnecessary”, as he asserted that Kannadigas and Kannada was his government’s utmost priority.
Earlier, he had clarified that the decision to set up a Maratha Development Corporation had nothing to do with the Marathi language, and it is for the Maratha community residing in the state. The pro-Kannada organisations had set a November 30 deadline for the government to withdraw its decision to establish Maratha Development Corporation.
The government’s decision to create a body for the Maratha community is seen as a move by the ruling BJP to woo the community ahead of the Belagavi Lok Sabha, Maski and Basavakalyan assembly bypolls, which are yet to be announced. The community is said to have considerable presence there.
The government had earlier announced the setting up of the Maratha Development Authority, but subsequently changed it to corporation, as authority has to be constituted by a law, by passing an act in the legislature. Despite opposition, the government following the cabinet approval has even issued a formal order establishing the Maratha Development Corporation, with an allocation of Rs 50 crore, which has further irked the pro-Kannada groups.