Kannada organisations condemn Maharashtra government health scheme that offers benefits Marathi speakers in Karnataka

Karnataka government should take necessary steps to counter it, they say

Updated - January 08, 2024 10:31 pm IST

Published - January 06, 2024 10:11 pm IST - Belagavi

Maharashtra MP Dhariyasheel Mane releases brochures of the Maharashtra government health scheme in the presence of MES leaders in Belagavi on Friday.

Maharashtra MP Dhariyasheel Mane releases brochures of the Maharashtra government health scheme in the presence of MES leaders in Belagavi on Friday. | Photo Credit: P.K. BADIGER

Kannada organisations have strongly condemned the Maharashtra government’s health insurance scheme that offers coverage to Marathi speakers in Karnataka villages.

The scheme provides cashless treatment facilities to residents in hospitals in Maharashtra. What has angered the Kannada activists is the provision that the scheme is applicable only to Marathi speakers and not others. Another point of contention is that the application form has to be whetted by Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, the local political party that is fighting for merger of Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka with Maharashtra.

“This is the most inhuman act that can be committed by any State government. The application form seeks an affidavit from the applicants that they are Marathi speakers. This is nothing but language-based discrimination. Secondly, it mandates recommendations of all applications by MES, a non constitutional body,” said Ashok Chandaragi, convenor of the Kannada organisations in Belagavi.

Activists also see it as a ploy by Maharashtra to collect data needed for fighting its case in the Supreme Court against Karnataka. “If the Karnataka government keeps quiet now, it is sure to suffer,” said Mr. Chandaragi.

It is very sad to see that the Karnataka government has not taken this issue seriously. When the announcement of the health scheme was made in March, we raised the issue before then Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. He criticised the plans and said he would take it up with the Union government. But that was not done. If the Siddaramaiah government turns a blind eye to the scheme, it will cost them dearly, said Mr. Chandaragi.

Coordinator for border dispute

Meanwhile the demand for the appointment of a Cabinet rank Minister as a coordinator for the border dispute, remains unanswered. “Successive governments have failed to listen to our demand for a dedicated Minister for the border dispute. He or she should be able to coordinate between various departments including law, revenue and Kannada and culture and see that all issues are clubbed and dealt with in a proper manner,” he said.

He also points out that the Border Area Protection Commission has not held a meeting in the last three years. “The commission also needs to be reconstituted. One of the three members has died and the other two are very old. The commission needs to get proactive and hold meetings in Belagavi and Bengaluru, with concerned officials and lawyers,” he said. Mr. Chandaragi urged the commission chairman Justice Shivaraj Patil to hold a meeting of the commission in Belagavi soon.

Dhairyasheel Mane, MP from Hatkanagale in Maharashtra and a member of the Maharashtra government’s high power committee on the border dispute, released the brochure of the scheme in Belagavi on Thursday. He announced the border dispute was of top priority to the Maharashtra government. “We consider Marathi speakers in Karnataka as citizens of Maharashtra,” he said.

MES leaders like Ramakant Konduskar and Vikas Kalaghatagi were present on the occasion.

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