In the Congress Karnataka manifesto, a push for Kannada culture and sub-nationalism

The manifesto has a regional, Karnataka-centric vision, focussing on linguistic and religious rights.
In the Congress Karnataka manifesto, a push for Kannada culture and sub-nationalism
In the Congress Karnataka manifesto, a push for Kannada culture and sub-nationalism
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Compared to the Congress party’s 2013 Karnataka elections manifesto, the 2018 manifesto not only brags more about its achievements throughout the document but has also shifted the discourse from the national and Nehruvian idea of politics to a more regional, Karnataka-centric vision – focusing on linguistic and religious rights. A part of its education and culture plan is a sharper focus on Kannada culture and language.

The focus on Kannada culture and sub-nationalism was also evident at the manifesto launch event. As Congress President Rahul Gandhi released the document in Mangaluru on Friday, he invoked Basavanna’s phrase -- “Nudidante Nade” (practice as you preach) and said that party’s government led by CM Siddaramaiah delivered 95% of its promises during the last term. "This manifesto contains the Mann ki Baat of Karnataka people,” Rahul said.

The manifesto also says, “Basavanna, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. B.R Ambedkar, Smt. Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Devaraj Urs are the sources of inspiration for our development model.”

Focus on Kannada language and federalism

As a part of its education and culture agenda, to create “Vibrant Minds For A Progressive Future”, the Congress party has laid out several promises to promote the Kannada language and culture.

Apart from promising to set up Rural Classical Centres to teach Classical Dance, Rural Folk Dance & Songs and Janapadha, the Congress has also proposed the creation of ‘Sahitya Bhasha Pradhikara’ at Dharwad.

A National Theatre is also proposed at Gadag, to promote art, literature, music and poetry, as a “fitting tribute” to stalwarts, which the party has listed out in detail. 

A Writers Guild in memory of Da Ra Bendre Prof. R.C Hirema, N.K.Kulkarni, and living legend like Dr. Pal Puappa, G.P Amur, Giraddi Govindraj, Channaveera Kanavi has also been proposed.

In a Facebook post earlier, Siddaramaiah had said, “Karnataka prides in Kannada identity. The oldest written document (in stone) in Kannada found at Halmidi, Hassan District, dates back to 2nd century AD. The oldest Kannada Kingdom under the Kadamabas of Banvasi ruled the state during the 4th century AD. We have been using a red and yellow flag since decades. Yet, Karnataka, as our poet Laureate Kuvempu said, is the daughter of Bharata, the Indian nation (Jaya Bharatha Jananiya Tanujathe).

Further, in a clear indication to promote Kannada sub-nationalism, the Congress wants to develop a ‘theme & freedom park’ featuring ‘legends’ of the Unified Karnataka Struggle like Alur Venkatrao, Kadapa Raghavendra and Andannappa Doddappa.

The manifesto also talks about the controversy over the 15th Finance Commission. “Congress party will fight to ensure devolution of funds particularly from the 15th Finance Commission along with other southern states as otherwise they are likely to lose substantially, due to devolution from the Centre.”

Other highlights

The manifesto also focused on agriculture, education and water resources and urban infra. Here are the highlights:

- ‘Mane Mane – Hola Hola Ka Neeru’, promise to provide water to every household and farm.

- Doubling of farmers income.

- Creation of a “Distress Fund” to provide financial and other support to farmers.

- Guaranteed 12 years of good quality school education for all children in Karnataka.

- Free education for girls at post-graduation level.

- Establishment of civic right club that will train citizens on civic issue.

- Improvement of transport facilities.

- Improvement of social and economic status of minorities.

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