A file photo of BJP Raichur MLA Shivraj Patil. | Photo: Facebook
A file photo of BJP Raichur MLA Shivraj Patil. | Photo: Facebook
Text Size:

Bengaluru: A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator’s attempt to highlight neglect of his district in Karnataka has spiralled into a border dispute controversy.

Last week, BJP’s Raichur MLA Shivraj Patil made an appeal to Karnataka’s Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Prabhu Chauhan, on the issue of development of his district, Raichur. But he went on to suggest that the district, which borders Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, should be merged with the latter, sparking off the controversy.

A video of him making the statement at an event on 7 October went viral after Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leaders amplified it, deeming it a “compliment” to the state ruled by their party. 

The viral video drew flak for the BJP MLA, as pro-Kannada activists and opposition leaders accused him of being “anti-Karnataka”.

The outrage stems from Karnataka’s history of struggle with its neighbouring states like Kerala and Maharashtra over border districts and villages.

“I was only trying to highlight how my home district has been neglected for the last four decades. Irrespective of the party in power, government after government has neglected Raichur. I was only attempting to make the minister (Chauhan) aware of our anguish,” Shivraj Patil told ThePrint Wednesday, adding that he was exhausted by the controversy.

Also read: Small units pack up, weavers prefer to be guards: How Covid ruined Karnataka garment industry

‘Do us a favour, attach Raichur to Telangana’

On 7 October, minister Chauhan was visiting Malliabad taluk of Raichur to inaugurate a cattle shelter development project, when his party colleague Patil made the controversial statement.

“North Karnataka development is limited to Hubballi–Dharwad and Belgaum; Kalyana Karnataka development is limited to Kalaburagi and Bidar. Do us a favour and attach our Raichur to Telangana,” the BJP MLA is seen saying to the minister in the video as the crowd breaks into applause.

“You are senior, a minister too, you have to take our Raichur forward. We are like lifeless corpses, you have to pour life into us. Our voices are never heard even when we scream. What else are we to do? You have the power, please develop our district,” the MLA goes on to state.

TRS leaders, including K.T. Rama Rao, son of Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao and the state’s minister for municipal administration and urban development, amplified the video, claiming that the MLA wanted Raichur to be part of Telangana.

Validation for Telangana coming from across the border; Karnataka BJP MLA says Raichur should be merged in Telangana & the audience welcomes the suggestion with applause,” Rama Rao tweeted.


‘Stop defaming Telangana’

The turn of events drew severe criticism from pro-Kannada activists and opposition leaders in Karnataka.

“If your own government is not giving you funds for the district, that means they are sending off your money to New Delhi and rendering you an orphan. Please protest against that and demand funds. Stop defaming Karnataka in front of Telugu folks,” lashed out Rupesh Rajanna, president of Karunada Sevakaru, a pro-Kannada rights organisation, through tweets.

Dozens of other handles too criticised Patil for his statements.

However, Patil retorted in his conversation with ThePrint: “I cannot help it if people want to misuse my statement for their own agenda. My intent was to highlight the poor treatment meted out to Raichur. We were supposed to get an AIIMS-like institution but leaders from Hubballi ensured it was shifted there. Raichur is identified as one of the most backward districts in Karnataka but we never get any projects.

He added: “(Ex-CM) B.S. Yediyurappa’s government has sanctioned Rs 5,300 crore for development of Raichur on various schemes. I will not deny that, but my concern is about new projects, educational institutions, vocational opportunities not being extended to the district. I am not anti-Kannada or anti-Karnataka. I am a Kannadiga.”

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: ‘A collection agent’: Karnataka Congress leaders’ video on Shivakumar leaves party embarrassed


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism