It was aimed at mobilising the public for a rally in Belgaum shortly

KARWAR: A campaign by a few workers of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) from Belgaum and Karwar at Sadashivgad near here recently to create public opinion on the issue of the merger of border taluks of Karwar and Joida with Maharashtra was not taken well here. Various Kannada organisations and also prominent citizens have condemned it.

According to MES sources, the campaign was aimed at mobilising the public of Karwar taluk for a rally in Belgaum shortly.

According to them, a majority of the people in these two taluks have Konkani and Marathi as their mother tongues. The people of these two taluks follow Marathi culture. As such these taluks should be merged with Maharashtra.

MES had its presence in Karwar taluk during the Sixties. B.P. Kadam, a prominent leader of that time, had won the Assembly elections from Karwar-Joida constituency as an MES candidate in 1962. But his success was more due to the clout he enjoyed with the electorate than the influence of the MES.

It was evident from the fact that Kadam won the Assembly elections as an independent again in 1967. Later, he joined the Congress. After his departure from the MES, the organisation completely collapsed in this part of the State. As a result, the activities of MES also stopped here.

Uttara Kannada district was a part of Bombay Presidency during the British rule. Before reorganisation of the States, the district was in Bombay State. The local Konkani-speaking people had close connections with Mumbai then. They had matrimonial relations also with the people in Bombay. Many Marathi-medium schools had also been established in Karwar and Joida taluks. Marathi films were released often in Karwar. The visit of Marathi drama troupes from Mumbai and Pune was an annual feature.

However, Konkani-speaking people were disenchanted when Marathis began to claim that Konkani was a dialect of Marathi. They disputed it and asserted that Konkani had independent status as a language. It was the Konkani-speaking people led by late P.S. Kamat who argued before Mahajan Commission that Karwar was an integral part of Karnataka.

S.P. Kamat, senior advocate, points out that Konkani-speaking people had their future only in Karnataka.