As media reports spread on Thursday about Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s ‘plan’ to divide Belagavi so it can be administered better, sparking anger and outrage in the state, sources in the CM’s office called it a “ploy” by the Opposition.
The Kannada media reports claimed that Kumaraswamy wanted to split Belagavi into Gokak and Chikkodi districts. The speculation comes as the CM is set to visit the district on Saturday. Belagavi is the second-largest district in the state, with 14 taluks and 18 Assembly constituencies.
The Karnataka BJP reacted to this immediately and called the CM “a threat to the state”.
“CM Kumaraswamy started with dividing north & south Karnataka & when he didn’t succeed he now wants to divide districts. HDK has now restored to playing with feelings of Kannadigas to save his CM seat. Hiding under the blanket of regional party HDK is becoming a threat to State,” the state party handle tweeted.
CM Kumaraswamy started with dividing north & south Karnataka & when he didn’t succeed he now wants to divide districts. HDK has now restored to playing with feelings of Kannadigas to save his CM seat. Hiding under the blanket of regional party HDK is becoming a threat to State. https://t.co/mwxL2ePF0o— BJP Karnataka (@BJP4Karnataka) September 13, 2018
However, an official from the Chief Minister’s Office denied any such development and termed it as a baseless rumor. “The CM is travelling to the district on Saturday, and this is just a political ploy against him by the Opposition,” the official who didn’t want to be identified said.
The call to reorganise districts in the state is not entirely new, however. In December 2017, Lok Sabha MP from Chikkodi, Prakash Hukkeri, had openly pledged support to the cause of dividing Belagavi. Hunger strikes and protests were held and an unofficial shutdown was called for in March.
Former CM Siddaramaiah too was reportedly in favour of dividing the district, and wanted an all-party meet to discuss the issue. However, the idea was opposed by pro-Kannada organisations.
This district, which borders Maharashtra, has also been witness to north Karnataka’s demand for separate statehood, alleging step-motherly treatment with regard to budgetary allocations and representation in the government.
To contain the dissidence, CM HD Kumaraswamy on September 6 had decided to move some administrative offices out of Bengaluru to the region, a long-standing demand of the activists.