Strife on cards as K’taka bans ‘black day’ on statehood anniversary?

Kannadiga-Maratha strife many surface in Karnataka’s border Belagavi district as the state government has banned observation of ‘Black Day’ by Marathi organisations and parties on the Kannada Rajyotsava celebrated on November 1 to mark the state’s formation.

Belagavi Deputy Commissioner M.G. Hiremath announced that the administration will not allow observation of the ‘Black Day’ on Kannada Rajyotsava, as only its celebrations will be allowed, as per the guidelines of the government and the legal framework.

The decision was taken at a preliminary meeting on Kannada Rajyotsava held on October 13.

Hiremath said that permission for the procession will be given as per the Covid guidelines and all people should cooperate with the authorities.

Federation of Kannada Organisations President Ashoka Chandragi appealed that this time, there should a grand celebration of Kannada Rajyostava. He has also urged authorities to change the name of the region from “Mumbai-Karnataka” to “Kittur-Karnataka”.

Sources, however, said that the Maharashtra Ekikarana Samithi (MES) party is not happy with the decision of the district administration. It has been observing a ‘Black Day’ in Belagavi on the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, demanding a merger of the district with Maharashtra.

The MES once had powerful political representation, sending MLAs to the Assembly and holding reins of Belagavi City Corporation. The Mayors of the MES from Belagavi participated in the ‘Black Day’ observed by their party every year despite the criticism of the Kannada organisations, thinkers and government. Following this development, the state government had superseded the Belagavi city corporation.

However, things have changed as the ruling BJP swept the civic polls held recently to establish its rule for the first time ever and the MES suffered a humiliating defeat.

Sources said that Marathi organisations will try to whip up feelings of Marathi- speaking people, present in large numbers in the district, to stage a ‘Black Day’ on the occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava to assert themselves. MES leaders who have suffered a humiliating defeat will also not keep quiet.

The MES has been observing a ‘Black Day’ ever since the reorganisation of states in the 1950s in protest against the merger of Belagavi (then Belgaum) with Karnataka. The Maharashtra government also supported the movement. The Shiv Sena, the NCP and Congress governments there earlier had even given a call to their ministers to tie black bands on their hands in support of the ‘Black Day’ observed by pro-Maharashtra groups.

The boundary dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is pending before the Supreme Court as Maharashtra has moved the apex court over a decade ago demanding the merger of Belagavi and other regions with it.