Kannada organisations oppose Maharashtra varsity offer of free education to border area students

Some Kannada organisations have condemned the Maharashtra government’s scheme of offering free higher education to Marathi-speaking students from border areas, saying it is politically motivated and would further damage Kannada–Marathi relations in Karnataka.

A team of academicians, led by Bharati Patil, met some students, teachers, and activists to brief them about the scheme. She said that while residents of the 865 villages on the border would be given free admission to aided courses while they would be able to complete unaided courses by paying only 75% of the fees.

Some members of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti also attended the meeting in Belagavi. Marathi activist Datta Ugade organised the meeting in Belagavi on Tuesday. Writer Tukaram More participated in the meeting in Bhalki on Thursday. A similar meeting is planned in Nippani on August 4.

‘Only a front’

Ashok Chandaragi, convener of Kannada organisations in Belagavi, suspected that this was a strategy by the Maharashtra government and that the university was only a front. This Maharashtra government’s move was against the Karnataka government sanctioning ₹100 crore to the Karnataka Maratha Development Corporation, he said. “We had all thought that the new Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra would not venture into the border issue as it is sharing power with the BJP. But we are disappointed,’’ Mr. Chandaragi said.

“All this is happening as the Karnataka government is neglecting border areas. It has failed in its promise of shifting the border area commission authority office to the Suvarna Soudha. Schools in the border areas do not have teachers and other facilities. We have been raising this issue continuously, but in vain,’’ Deepak Gudenatti, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike leader, said.

Kannada Development Authority chairman T.S. Nagabharana has urged Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to take a serious view of the situation. “We suspect that Maharashtra will introduce such schemes and then use them as evidence in their case in the Supreme Court seeking merger of Marathi-speaking areas with Maharashtra,’’ he said.

C. Somashekar, chairman of the Karnataka Border Area Development Authority, said he would meet Mr. Bommai and urge him to speak to the Maharashtra government and ask them to stop the scheme in view of the good relations between the two States.

‘Have a counter scheme’

“If the State government were to oppose the offer of free education by Shivaji University, let it offer similar schemes to the border area residents in Karnataka,’’ suggested M.G. Mule, chairman of the Karnataka Maratha Development Corporation.

“I cannot say I am in favour of the Shivaji University’s scheme. But opposing it would not be wise,’’ he said. Opposing the offer of free education anywhere is taking a short-sighted view of the situation, he said. He, however, was opposed to any attempt by the MES or any other organisation to politicise the issue. There is nothing wrong with students crossing the border for education, said Mr. Mule, former MLA for Basava Kalyan.

However, according to him, the plans of the university would not succeed as most Marathi-speaking parents prefer to send their wards to colleges and universities in Karnataka. The earlier trend was to go to Marathawada or Mumbai or Pune. It has changed now. Nowadays, parents send their children to Mangaluru, Bengaluru or Dharwad for higher studies, he said.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 12:30:34 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/kannada-organisations-oppose-maharashtra-varsity-offer-of-free-education-to-border-area-students/article65694939.ece