Issues in the immediate neighbourhood clearly have a bigger impact: leaders
The response to the call for a strike or bandh is diverse and depends upon a variety of local factors and issues.
For example, while the Mandya and Mysore belt might close down entirely in response to a call for a bandh over the Cauvery water-sharing issue, it would hardly be observed in Gulbarga or Mangalore.
Members of a cross-section of organisations from the districts of Karnataka say that issues in the immediate neighbourhood — in contrast to those that are broad-based or disconnected with the region — create a larger impact.
“Many times, a small incident in the neighbourhood attracts more public anger than a policy that needs to be changed by people sitting in Delhi or Bangalore,” says Vithaldas Pyage, leader, Chalavadi Maha Sabha in Bidar. “Five years ago, Bidar saw two protest rallies, which were the biggest in the district’s history. One was by Dalit organisations against police excesses on Ambedkar’s death anniversary. The other was by various associations alleging harassment by some office-bearers of Dalit organisations.”
Suresh Janashetty, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader in Bidar, says there is often resentment about issues dear to a region not evoking a response elsewhere in the State.
“I have been associated with the farmers’ movement for four decades now. We keep protesting whenever there is a problem related to the Cauvery, but we have seen little reciprocation from the Cauvery delta districts whenever there is an issue related to the Krishna,” he said.
He points out that this indifference to issues of northern Karnataka extends to other fields also. “Have you seen any Bangalore-based organisation take out a rally in the capital for 371(J)?”
A different outlook
In coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada, observers point out that issues that commonly affect the rest of the State may not evoke an emotional response owing to a variety of factors ranging from language to business interests specific to the region.
“Mangaloreans’ priorities are different,” says M.P. Umeshchandra, associate professor in Mangalore University Mass Communication and Journalism, presently posted as Special Officer of University’s SC/ST Cell.
“Our cultural undercurrents are different,” says Ivan D’Silva associate professor in Smt. L.V. Government Polytechnic, Hassan. “The region has traditionally enjoyed strong bonds with Kerala and Goa, and even historically it was never a part of what is now ‘core’ Karnataka,” he adds.