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The battle has just begun: Vaijnath

T.V. Sivanandan
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The former Minister Vaijnath Patil’s struggle for special status to the Hyderabad Karnataka region is history with the amendment to Article 371 of the Constitution, but Mr. Patil says the battle has not been won yet and that the people should be prepared for a long drawn struggle to get benefits due to them fully.

Mr. Patil, who resigned from the Ramakrishna Hegde Ministry in 1985 when the government dilly-dallied over implementation of the recommendations of the Dharam Singh panel on the constitution of a development board for Hyderabad Karnataka, is contesting from the Sedam on the Karnataka Janata Paksha ticket in the Assembly elections. In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Patil elaborated on the struggle for special status and his campaign for the May 5 polls.

Q: Why do you think the amendment to Article 371 would become a major issue in the elections?

A: The amendment is an important milestone for the people of Hyderabad Karnataka, and it is an issue that will dominate the election campaign.

Why did you choose the KJP, instead of the Congress which played an important role in amending Article 371?

After my resignation from the Bharatiya Janata Party, I kept aloof from political parties.

The Congress sent out some feelers, and asked me to join the party; but when KJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa personally called me and invited me to join his party and contest from Sedam, I could not refuse.

You were a strong critic of Mr. Yeddyurappa once. What made you change your approach towards him?

Yes, I was a critic of Mr. Yeddyurappa once; but taking into consideration the tireless efforts made by him to secure special status, I decided to join hands after he convinced me of his commitment to the implementation of Article 371(J).

Is the battle over, as far as special status is concerned?

No, the crucial part of the battle has just begun. Now, we must ensure that the State frames the rules as envisaged in the amendment. There is a need to extend the reservation to people from the region living across the State, instead of simply for those living in Hyderabad Karnataka alone.

However, there is no provision for reservation in jobs in public or private sector units.

There is a need for such reservation.

The government should ensure this while framing the rules. A person who is deeply concerned with this cause should be present in the Assembly, so that these issues can be raised.

What are the main issues you are focussing on in the campaign?

I am mainly focussing on the benefits of the amendment to Article 371. The issue has received a tremendous response from the people, and I am overwhelmed by this.

The Congress is claiming credit for getting the amendment passed…

What do they know about Article 371 and what were they doing for the past four decades that prevented them from amending it? The BJP should not claim any credit either, as they did very little for the cause.

How do you feel about contesting from Sedam?

Sedam is like my home constituency, since more than 39 villages from Chincholi taluk were included in it during the delimitation of Assembly constituencies.

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