Umesh Katti. Image Courtesy : Deccan Chronicle
Umesh Katti, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Karnataka, demanded a statehood for North Karnataka on October 18, according to a PTI report. This statement of the MLA came as a response to the statements made by the Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa while campaigning for the BJP in Maharashtra. The CM reportedly has promised releasing water to Maharashtra from Karnataka.
Katti reportedly said, “Neither the CM’s action is appropriate, nor is that of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and Maharashtra CM’s action is not good either,” commenting on the alleged inadequate water supply to the Northern parts of the state from Maharashtra and Goa. Katti is an eight-time MLA from the Belagavi district. According to a report in Scroll.in, he also cited inadequate relief to victims of the August floods as one of the reasons for his demand.
As NewsClick has reported earlier, this region of the state has been a victim of natural disaster for the last 15 years. The Northern districts of the state were untouched by the monsoon for years—until last yea—causing a severe drought. Even before the government came up with a plan to tackle the drought, the region, earlier this year, was hit by floods. The state of Karnataka, in general, receives heavy rainfall. This year, condition was really bad in Bagalkot, Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Mangaluru city, Kodagu, Raichur, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Vijayapura, Gadag, Haveri, Dharwad and Shivamogga. According to a report in The News Minute, Belagavi alone received 109% above the normal rainfall.
Also Read: Plight of North Karnataka Farmers, Silent State Government and Politics of BJP
After two long months of waiting, the central government has announced flood relief of Rs 1,200 crore as for Karnataka. The state government, however, had requested for Rs 3,000 crore. The floods are reported to have had caused losses worth Rs 50,000 crore and around 103 taluks in 22 districts have been badly hit with crop loss sprawling over 2,21,428 hectares. Around 75,317 houses have been damaged due to the rains.
Katti is one of the many BJP MLAs reportedly—who are not happy with Yeddyurappa being the CM of the state. Katti reportedly also said that he would not want any position lower than that of a CM and he would become the CM of North Karnataka. As Sugata Srinivasaraju writes in The Wire, “Yedyurappa is accused by his own party men of having ‘arm twisted’ the central leadership to forcefully occupy the chief minister’s chair at the end of July.”
Interestingly, just a few weeks ago, Jayasuriya MLA Bassingbourn Patil Yatnal had severely criticised Narendra Modi for not granting funds to the state and he had also come down on the CM.
Also Read: Karnataka Flood Relief Funds: Farmers Suffer Due to Lack of Crop Loss Compensation
One has to remember that the North Karnataka region is a political hotbed for the BJP. The party relies upon its traditional Lingayat vote bank of this region. This is not the first time that the BJP representative has made a demand for the statehood of North Karnataka. As NewsClick had reported earlier, various activists in North Karnataka had raised their voices demanding a different state comprising 13 districts in the region. Organisations like Uttara Karnataka Horata Samiti and Uttara Karnataka Vikasa Vedike, accusing the then state government of ignoring the region’s interests, had called for a bandh (shutdown) on August 2, 2018. Though the bandh was not successful and failed to receive support in the state, BJP MLA B Sriramulu had supported the call and the demand for separate statehood.
Supporting the demand for separate statehood by the North Karnataka region, Sriramulu had said, “We will not keep quiet if injustice is meted out to North Karnataka. We, the MLAs from North Karnataka, are holding discussions. Just wait and watch what we do next. Like separate Telangana, this (movement) will also become a big revolution. The coalition government has ignored North Karnataka. Chief Minister Kumaraswamy is practising the politics of partiality.” What is different this time is that, the BJP is in power and MLA accusing the government of neglecting the region is also from BJP.
Also Read: Karnataka Flood Relief Funds: Delayed and Meagre Allocation by Centre