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Disqualified Karnataka MLAs find a new tool to woo voters — new districts

In the last few months, demands to carve out 9 districts have been made by politicians & disqualified MLAs, saying it would result in better administration.

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Bengaluru: A number of politicians, mostly disqualified Congress and JD(S) MLAs, in Karnataka have made a common demand of carving out new districts from their respective regions, a move seen by many as politically-motivated and an attempt to woo voters.

In the last few months, demands to carve out nine new districts have been made and the elected representatives have demanded that their respective constituencies be made the headquarters of the new districts.

The MLAs are preparing to contest the by-elections to 15 constituencies that fell vacant after their disqualification for violating the anti-defection law.

Sources said the disqualified legislators are hoping that carving out new districts from their regions will be the fastest way to woo the voters.

The by-elections are scheduled to be held on 5 December. The Election Commission delayed the bypolls, which were initially scheduled on 21 October.

Karnataka minister Suresh Kumar, however, told ThePrint that demands for separate districts have not come up formally either before the state cabinet or the BJP core committee meetings.

“An individual’s demand or statement cannot be considered a decision of the government or the political stance of the party. Though it is true that smaller districts help in better administration, as of now our government has no such plan,” he said.

Demand to bifurcate Mysuru to get Hunsur district

The latest request for a new district has come from disqualified JD(S) MLA A.H. Vishwanath, who has demanded bifurcation of Mysuru district to carve out Hunsur district.

Vishwanath, who was the former JD(S) president, has demanded that Hunsur district should comprise Krishnarajanagar, Saligrama, Periyapatna and H.D. Kote regions. He has also demanded that the new district be named after former chief minister Devaraj Urs as he belonged to Hunsur.

Political observers said the demand has been made to reduce the influence of senior Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah in the Old Mysore region, which is his stronghold.

“Vishwanath wants to settle scores with Siddaramaiah with whom he had a bitter standoff during the elections. His demand for a separate district is to checkmate Siddarmaiah’s influence,” political analyst Professor Chambi Puranik told ThePrint.

Siddaramaiah, meanwhile, has called Vishwanath’s demand “unscientific”.

“There is no need to form Hunsur district. It is not scientific to form districts every 30 kilometres. It is not a good development. I personally don’t like it,” he said Monday while speaking to the media in Mysuru.

Farmers’ leader Kurubur Shanthakumar also spoke against the bifurcation of Mysuru.

“People of Mysuru will not support a decision to bifurcate it. The government should seek the opinion of the people and elected representatives,” said Shanthakumar, who has been at the forefront of several farmer agitations in the region.

Also read: Rebel Karnataka MLAs get EC relief, bypolls in their seats deferred until SC verdict

Vijayanagara, Madhugiri, Tiptur as separate districts

Before Vishwanath, JD(S) leader and spokesperson Ramesh Babu had demanded that Tiptur be made a district as it would help in its “better administration”.

Earlier, former deputy CM and Congressman Dr G. Parameshwara, who is from Tumakuru, had written to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to declare Madhugiri a separate district, comprising Koratagere, Pavagada and Sira regions for “better administration and disbursal of funds”.

The loudest clamour has been to make Ballari’s Vijayanagara town a district. 

Disqualified Congress MLA Anand Singh from Hospet demanded that the heritage town be separated from Ballari district. Singh had even tendered his resignation as an MLA, citing the H.D. Kumaraswamy government’s failure to consider his demand.

Singh wanted to split Ballari district into Ballari and Vijayanagara. When Yediyurappa had convened a meeting of the district’s legislators in this regard earlier this month, all MLAs opposed the demand. In the meantime, demands for formation of more districts cropped up and so the entire plan of splitting Ballari was dropped.

Professor Puranik said that Singh has made such a demand as he wants to “create a stronghold for himself and cut the powers of the Reddy brothers in Ballari”.

Other demands for a separate district have been made for Jamkhandi taluk in Bagalkot, Indi taluk in Vijayapura and Chikodi taluk in Belagavi district.

Demands are ‘politically motivated’

Political experts said that those asking for new districts want to pin down other influential leaders in the regions concerned.

Puranik told ThePrint the justification of the politicians that breaking up a district would help in better administration is just an eyewash.

“The aim is to find an issue to harp on just before the by-elections,” he said, adding that “administration” would be the last criterion in the mind of those who are demanding a separate district.

Another political analyst Harish Ramaswamy called the demand for new districts a “politically motivated mechanism”.

“When a state fails to deliver the promises made and the party in power is weak, it tends to safeguard the interest of legislators, and legislators try to take advantage of a weak state. By geo-physically carving out a district, they are also looking to have their name associated with it forever,” he told ThePrint.

“As of now, the state is incapable of delivering, so these demands are being made,” he added.

Also read: The 4 scenarios for rebel Karnataka MLAs who are waiting for SC ruling on disqualification


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