Pro-Kannada groups have called for a state-wide bandh in Karnataka on December 5 to protest against CM Yediyurappa's decision to earmark Rs 50 crores for the Maratha Development Board.
On 13th November, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa issued a circular stating that there will be a separate fund of Rs 50 crore allocated for the development of Marathas in the state. The circular mentioned that there is a large number of Marathas living in the state. The fund will be utilised for the financial, social and educational development of Marathas.
Terming the government's decision as 'anti-Kannada' and 'divisive', pro-Kannada groups led by Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha chief Vatal Nagaraj called for a bandh on Friday after meeting members of various unions.
As per reports, the pro-Kannada groups have accused the government of allotting the money to the Maratha Development Board to win the by-polls in Basavakalyan and have demanded separate boards to be set up for other communities as well.
The Karnataka bandh has received support from auto-rickshaws and cabs after their respective union members extended their support to the pro-Kannada groups, as per reports. Bars are also expected to stay shut, according to reports. Other trade union members were also present in the meeting with Vatal Nagraj on Friday.
Pro-Kannada activists protested in opposition to Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa's announcement on sanctioning separate fund for the development of Maratha community. All pro-Kannada Organizations called for a Karnataka Bandh on October 5 against the state government.
Talking to media, Karnataka Rakshana Vedhike President Praveen Kumar Shetty said, "We oppose the move of Karnataka CM in forming the Maratha development authority. When there is no development of Kannadigas in the state, the state govt is doing cheap politics by granting Rs 50 crore to the development of Marathas. Marathas celebrate Kannada Rajyotsava day as a black day in Belgavi. If they give funds to Marathas, tomorrow they might give funds to Gujaratis, Marvadis, Telugites and Tamilians in the state. There are Nomadic race community members, backward class community members in society. There is no proper education, jobs and facilities for them. Give importance to them too. If the govt doesn't withdraw the decision we will hold protests across the state in coming days."
Political opposition leaders have criticised this particular move of the government. They questioned the timing of the announcement. Karnataka Border constituencies Belagavi and Basavakalyan will witness by-poll elections in the near future. Talking to media, Opposition party leader Siddaramaiah said, "There are so many communities which need the development fund. In my view, if they have contributed to the development of this community, they should do to other communities as well. " Belagavi will witness a vacant Lok Sabha seat after the demise of Union Minister Suresh Angadi. The death of Congress MLA B Narayana Rao due to Covid-19 in October necessitated byelection to Basavakalyan. Though the dates of by-poll are not yet announced, this particular move by CM is seen by some as an attempt to influence the voters ahead of by-poll elections.