Vijayanagara is Karnataka’s 31st district

Vijaynagara, became Karnataka’s 31st district with the state government on Monday issuing an official gazette notification carving out a new district from the ore-rich Ballari.

The new district will have six taluks and Hosapete will be its headquarters, while Kudligi, Hagaribommana Halli, Kotturu, Hoovina Hadagali, and Harapanahalli are the other five taluks will be part of the new district.

Whereas Ballari district will have five taluks – Ballari, Kurugodu, Siraguppa, Kampli, and Sanduru whilst Ballari taluk will be its headquarters.

More importantly, the iconic cluster of monuments at Hampi or Hampe, a UNESCO world heritage site, will be part of the new district, Vijaynagara.

On November 18 last year, the state cabinet had given in principle approval for creation of Vijayanagara district.

The government’s plan to create Vijayanagara district had run into opposition, especially from within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, including MLA Somashekar Reddy.

Minister for Infrastructure Development, Haj and Wakf, Anand Singh, who is also the Ballari district in-charge, had anchored the efforts for the new district.

Singh, when he contested on a Congress ticket in 2018 after deserting BJP, he canvassed hard that he would ensure that Vijyanagara would be the new district by bifurcating the Ballari, who then ran feud with Ballari strongmen, Reddy brothers.

However, this demand got its shape only when Singh rejoined the BJP by defecting from Congress within a year and half in 2019. To win the by-election from Vijaynagara constituency, the plan for a new Vijayanagar district was first officially mooted by Chief Minister Yediyurappa in September 2019 during Singh’s poll rally.

As consensus eluded meetings held in this regard in October that year, the Chief Minister had deferred a decision on it.

Many within the ruling BJP had criticised the move in 2019, stating the decision to create a new district was being taken under pressure from Singh, in return for his role in BJP coming to power.

Singh is one of the 17 MLAs defected and their rebellion led to the fall of the previous H.D. Kumaraswamy led Congress-JD(S) coalition government, had cited the demand for a separate Vijayanagara district as one of the reasons for his resignation from the Congress.

Undivided Ballari was politically significant, comprising nine Assembly constituencies of which the Congress represents five and the BJP four.

In a note written to the Chief Secretary in September 2019, Yediyurappa had said keeping public and administrative interest in mind, it was necessary to create the new district noting that some parts of the Ballari district were about 200 km from the present headquarters.