Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Tuesday hinted at shifting some offices to north Karnataka to quell demand for a separate state.
“I plan to shift one anti-graft institution (Upa Lokayukta) to Belagavi in north Karnataka. In addition, three RTI (Right to Information) Commissioners will be shifted to the region, with two to Belagavi and one to Kalaburagi for equal representation in the state,” Kumaraswamy told reporters here.
Considered the second capital of the southern state, Belagavi is about 500km northwest from Bengaluru, with a common secretariat for the 13 districts of north Karnataka. The state’s legislature’s winter session is held in November or December every year to address issues concerning the region.
Clarifying that his JD-S-Congress coalition government was committed to uniform development in the state, especially the erstwhile Bombay province and the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, the Chief Minister said there was no cause to split the state, formed in 1956 as part of the States’ Reorganisation Act.
Accusing the opposition BJP of stoking separatist feelings with an eye on the 2019 general elections, Kumaraswamy said he was ready to shift more offices to Suvarna Soudha at Belagavi from Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru to ensure people in the region don’t have to travel to the state capital for their needs.
State’s BJP unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa, however, clarified at Belagavi that his party was against a separate state for north Karnataka, as there was a common linguistic, cultural and social identity among its people living in the old Mysuru, coastal, central and northern regions of the state.
“Our party is against a separate state as Karnataka was unified 62 years ago by merging its four regions in the Deccan plateau. The state government should ensure the socio-economic development of the region, especially the backward districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka,” Yeddyurappa told reporters.
The Chief Minister also appealed to the religious and social organisations in the region not to observe shutdown on August 2 in support of the demand for a separate state, as his government would ensure its speedy development.
The demand for a separate state revived on the grounds that the state budget for fiscal 2018-19, Kumaraswamy presented on July 5 in the assembly, did not allocate enough funds to the northern region.