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Demand to implement Mahajan panel report

By K.P. Pushparaj

KASARAGOD, MAY 5. The issue of bifurcation and merger of the northern part of Kasaragod district (to the north of the Chandragiri river) with Karnataka, as recommended by the Justice Mahajan Commission as early as in 1968, has come to the fore again in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

The issue resurfaced at a `Face-to-face' programme held here recently under the aegis of the Karnataka Samithi.

Though considered a non-issue for the people of Kasaragod in general, the bifurcation scheme is close to the heart of the Kannada and other linguistic minorities in the district, bordering Karnataka on its north and eastern boundary. A matter of debate among the `Horanadus' (other natives), the linguistic minorities, other than the Kannada-speaking in the district, include people speaking Tulu, Konkani and Marathi.

The implementation of the Justice Mahajan Commission report that recommended the bifurcation of Kasaragod and merger of its northern part with

Karnataka tops the agenda of the Kasaragod Vileeneekarana Kriya Samithi (Merger Action Council), which came into being a couple of years ago. The 2,500-member strong Karnataka Samithi, the Kannada Sahitya Parishad and a section of the Horanadu Kannadikas have joined hands with the Vileeneekarana Kriya Samithi.

The first official resolution demanding the bifurcation of Kasaragod district was moved and passed in the Kasaragod Municipal Council in 1956, then headed by Ramanna Rai.

According to the veteran Kannada literary and social figure, Kayyar Kinhanna Rai, who is also the founder of the Vileenekarana Kriya Samithi (VKS), the linguistic minorities in the district were not against the Malayalis or Kerala State, per se, but were demanding the implementation of the Justice Mahajan Commission report, vis-a-vis the fulfilment of promises made by the former Chief Ministers, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, C. Achutha Menon and Pattam Thanu Pillai, in this regard.

In fact, the bifurcation issue re-emerged when the Maharashtra Government put forth its demand to bifurcate and merge Belgaum and the neighbouring areas (now in Karnataka) with Maharashtra about a couple of years ago. The VKS had then urged Kannadigas to unite and take the issue to the apex court.

The former MP and CPI(M) strongman, M. Ramanna Rai, had also associated with the movement to translate the age-old dream of the Kannada-speaking minorities into a reality.

Mahajan report as an election issue

In the `Face-to-face' programme, the BJP candidate, V. Balakrishna Shetty, had categorically declared his support to the cause, while the UDF candidate, N.A. Muhammed, was passive in his remarks on the issue.

The LDF candidate, P. Karunakaran, did not turn up at the programme.

According to Mr. Shetty, he would welcome a move in this regard by the Karnataka Government.

"We are not in power either in Karnataka or in Kerala. It is for the State Government to project the issue and seek the implementation of the Mahajan commission report. Taking into consideration the fact that a majority of the people living in the Northeast areas of the district still follow the Karnataka tradition, culturally and educationally, I would certainly support a bill on bifurcation if moved in Parliament," Mr. Shetty said.

On the other hand, Mr. Muhammed said he would not do anything that would distort or topple a bill favouring the implementation of the Mahajan Commission report.

Mr. Muhammed said that he would not press for implementation of the Mahajan Commission report but would certainly not act against it if such a bill was moved in the Parliament.

However, the remarks of the UDF candidate on the bifurcation issue were not taken lightly by the CPI(M) leadership. The CPI(M) leader, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, had recently demanded the suspension of Mr. Muhammed from the Congress for having supported the issue. Mr. Kodiyeri also demanded an explanation from the Congress whether the party too held the views of the UDF candidate.

"A resolution demanding the merger of the north of Kasaragod as recommended by Justice Mahajan was moved and approved by the Vidhan Soudha under the Deva Gowda regime in Karnataka. The S.M. Krishna Government also supported this move.

It would be up to the new Karnataka Government to press for the expedition of the resolution at the Centre", points out the Karnatka Samithi leader, B.V. Kakkillaya.

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