Congress flags Kannada issues against BJP’s nationalist agenda


Govt. is at full throttle to take regional identity issues to a logical end before polls

In what is being perceived as an attempt to pit regional pride to counter the aggressive nationalist agenda of the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly polls, the State government is at full throttle to take all regional identity issues to a logical end before the Election Commission of India announces the calender of events.

According to sources, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has directed officials to finalise issues such as Naada Dhwaja (State flag) at the earliest. The Congress government has repeatedly argued for the State flag, an emblem of regional identity, as the right of a State under the federal structure.

Sriramulu’s query

What seems to have given it a sense of urgency is the incident of B. Sriramulu, BJP MP, recently seeking a reply on Karnataka State flag in Parliament, asking whether it will threaten the unity and and integrity of the nation. The BJP, while not opposing the flag outright, has called it a political gimmick.

“There is unanimity among the members on Karnataka having its Nada Dhwaja. Kannada and Culture Department has been asked to submit the design for the flag and legal advice is expected from the Department of Law and Parliamentary affairs on getting legal sanctity,” said Manu Baligar, president, Kannada Sahitya Parishat, a member of the committee set up to look into the issue. Sources in the Kannada and Culture Department said officials of the Law and Parliamentary Affairs had been directed to send its opinion to the panel to help it submit a report to the State government. “The report will be approved by the Cabinet and send to the Centre,” an official said.

Meanwhile, a delegation from Karnataka led by S.G. Siddaramaiah, chairman, Kannada Development Authority, comprising of writers such as Chandrashekara Kambara, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister for HRD Prakash Javdekar and others and sought proactive response to the regional sentiments of Karnataka and Kannada. Among the issues raised was modification of eligibility criteria to facilitate Kannadigas to write in Kannada in the exams Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) and Staff Selection Commission.

Meanwhile, the opinion on the extent to which the issue of regional identity will impact the polls remains divided. A. Narayana, researcher at Azim Premji University, said this is very unlikely to play a significant role in the elections. “The larger question is the allegation that a national party in power at the Centre with a national agenda is trampling upon the cultural, developmental and political interests of Karnataka. This has potential to become a powerful issue in the elections. However, as of now, political parties in Karnataka have not articulated a clear strategy to exploit the issue electorally,” he said. He added that while BJP was the clear target in this issue, the Congress being a national party has serious limitations in carrying it through. He said JD(S) is in the best position to take advantage of this, but it does not seem enthusiastic.

Issues up for tackling

Naada Geethe (State song)

The government has decided to take a final call on the report of the expert committee headed by poet Chennaveera Kanavi constituted to standardise Naada Geethe. It had recommended trimming the four-minute anthem to 90 seconds and a standard tune. However, he government has been sitting on the report submitted three years ago, because of differences between two groups over trimming of lines. “The government will make an announcement in this regard shortly,” said a senior official in the Department of Kannada and Culture.

Employment to Kannadigas

The government, which announced 100% reservation in private sector with an amendment to the Karnataka Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Rules, 1961, has planned to clear legal hurdles in its implementation. The amendment will facilitate the government to implement revised recommendations of Sarojini Mahishi Committee report, which empowers the government to make it mandatory for private sector to offer employment for Kannadigas.

Cultural policy

While the cultural policy has been submitted, the government has now directed the authorities to issue orders to implement it. According to writer Baraguru Ramachandrappa, Karnataka is the first State in the country to have a comprehensive cultural policy.

Autonomy for CESCK

Because of the consistent pressure from Kannada Development Authority, the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development recently appointed project director for the Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Kannada, which helps reap benefits of classical tag for Kannada accorded eight years ago. MHRD even assured of granting autonomous status on getting proposal from the government.

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Printable version | Jan 30, 2020 2:17:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/congress-flags-kannada-issues-against-bjps-nationalist-agenda/article22445076.ece

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