Karnataka is setting up a Maratha Development Authority, with Rs 50-crore corpus for the welfare of the Marathas living in the state, especially in districts bordering Maharashtra. "Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has directed the state welfare department to set up the Authority for the financial, social, educational and development of the Marathas living in the state over the decades, especially in the northwest and northern regions," an official told IANS.
The state's northwest region was part of the Bombay Province and northern region of the erstwhile Hyderabad-Karnataka region before they were merged with the southern region in the Madras Presidency to form Mysore on November 1, 1956, for the reorganisation of the states across the country. According to Sakala Maratha Samaj president Keshavanathrao Jadav, the Marathas have been living in Karnataka over the centuries as they took part in the Anglo-Mysore wars since the 17th century and settled in the southern state and became part of the state.
"Though our forefathers were from Maharashtra, we migrated to the erstwhile Mysore state to wage a war in favour of Kannadigas against the British," Jadav recalled. The community has been urging the state government to include Marathas under the 2A list of backward classes to benefit from reservations in jobs and seats in educational colleges.
The decision to set up the authority comes ahead of the byelection to Basavakalyan assembly segment in the state's northern border district Bidar where hundreds of Marathas live. Though the Election Commission is yet to announce the poll date, the bye-election has been necessitated due to the death of its Congress legislator B Narayan Rao, who succumbed to COVID-19 at a private hospital in Bengaluru on September 24. The assembly constituency also has a substantial number of Maratha and Lingayat voters, and the latter is the community Yediyurappa belongs to.
Ahead of the November 3 bye-election in the Sira assembly segment in Tumakuru district, the state government on September 29 had set up the Kadu Golla Development Board to woo the Telugu-speaking Golla community, which has a substantial number of voters. The ruling BJP's candidate Raju Gowda wrested the seat from the JD(S), whose sitting legislator B Satyanarayana's death on August 4 in the city caused the by-elections.