Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa's plans allegedly to appease Maratha communities in the state has irked various Kannada organisations. Notwithstanding the warning from the Chief Minister, several pro-Kannada activists and organisations led by Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha supremo Vatal Nagaraj have called for a statewide bandh on December 5, condemning the decision to form the Maratha Community Development Board.
At least a dozen pro-Kannada activists, including famous film producer and Rajkumar Fans' Association chief Sa. Ra. Govindu, met on Friday and passed an unanimous resolution that they will go ahead with the bandh call given by them on December 5.
"We are coming under a single banner - Federation of Kannada Associations - to give a call for a statewide bandh on December 5," Nagaraj said after the meeting.
Speaking to reporters flanked by several Kannada activists, Nagaraj said that the Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha has already received support of more than 1,000 pro-Kannada organisations across the state.
"We will not be cowed down by the CM's warning and we will go ahead with our scheduled bandh on December 5," he said.
Nagaraj further added that several Kannada activists have laid down their lives to protect the state's borders, water and language. "Constituting such a board (Maratha) itself is an insult to those who have laid down their lives," he said.
Nagaraj added that the state government must roll back its decision of forming this board.
Former Kannada Development Authority (KDA) chairman, Congress leader and noted film actor, Mukkhya Mantri Chandru, said the state government has failed to allocate a meager sum of Rs 5 crore for KDA's activities this year and reduced its allocations from Rs 5 crore to Rs 2 crore citing the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Besides the KDA, why no funds have been allocated to the Karnataka Border Development Authority? The authorities sought only a few crores, that too in single digit. But for the sake of politics and election, why should the CM hurt Kannadigas' sentiments," he asked.
The federation stated in its statement that it would start meeting leaders from likeminded oganisations -- farmers and Dalit bodies -- across the state to seek their support for the bandh.
Last week, Yediyurappa took a decision to set up the Maratha Development Board that came ahead of the announcement of the bypolls to the Belagavi Lok Sabha constituency, as well as the Basavakalyan and Maski assembly constituencies, which have a sizeable Marathi-speaking population.
A row erupted following this, with pro-Kannada activists and Opposition parties condemning the decision, and calling for a statewide bandh on December 5. Hearing this announcement, Yediyurappa on Wednesday asserted that his government will not allow the bandh.
He further said that if pro-Kannada activists resort to bandh, he will be forced to use the police to stop it.
"With my folded hands I appeal to them not to call for a bandh on December 5. If they go ahead, then I will be forced to act against them," he said.
"Marathas are also Hindu followers. There is a difference between development of Marathi and Maratha. Maratha is a community and they are Hindus," he argued.