CM Kumaraswamy promises to tour all 13 districts and bring development, BJP’s Yeddyurappa attempts to stop the movement.
Bengaluru: The demand for a separate state of north Karnataka has taken a decisive turn Wednesday with the unveiling of a state flag and protesters refusing to call off Thursday’s proposed bandh, despite meeting chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to discuss their grievances.
Kumaraswamy assured the protesters that he would revive a 10-year-old proposal to make Belagavi the second capital of the state.
The proposal was mooted because people from the northern region have to traverse the length of the state to reach Bengaluru, which is located in its south-eastern corner.
At the meeting with Kumaraswamy, the leaders of the Separate State Agitation Committee for North Karnataka (SSACNK) made it clear that their bandh call was not aimed specifically at him, but at all three principal parties in the state — Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal (Secular) — for neglecting the people of the region.
Kumaraswamy promised to tour all the 13 districts of the region to allay their concerns and ensure development in the area. He attempted to pacify the SSACNK leaders by asking them to consider him as “one of your own”.
“Some people have been spreading false propaganda to create a rift between us. I urge you to ignore them as I have plans to earn your love and affection,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about who did what and when, but what I have understood now is that I have an opportunity and I plan to take full responsibility to develop north Karnataka,” he said.
BJP jumps in
While deliberations were on between the chief minister and some protesters in Bengaluru, seers from several north Karnataka mutts sat with activists in protest at the Suvarna Soudha, the assembly building in Belagavi, where the winter session of the legislature is held.
It is at this protest that a flag for the separate state was unveiled, even while former chief minister and BJP state president B.S. Yeddyurappa was trying to convince the protesters to back down.
Yeddyurappa rushed to Belagavi after he made it clear that the party was not in favour of a separate state, despite several senior leaders, including former MP B. Sriramulu, coming out in support of the movement.
“The chief minister, instead of helping the people here, has lit a fire. He should have been here to talk to all of you,” Yeddyurappa said.
Taking aim at Kumaraswamy, he added: “The people will not forgive you, I am warning you.”
The BJP leader said he had taken it upon himself to ensure that the protests did not snowball into a movement. “I feel this movement should stop, and I am meeting the protesters for this reason,” Yeddyurappa said.
He then took the stage to announce that the BJP party would put pressure on the government to develop north Karnataka.
“If this government fails to provide adequate development, then I assure you that I will do it within 24 hours if the BJP is voted into power,” he said.
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