“May the State of Karnataka, which has been wrongly named Mysore State, live long, be robust and prosper.”
This was what Alur Venkatarao, revered as ‘Karnataka Kulapurohita’ (high priest of the unification movement) said during the celebration held at Hampi to mark the birth of the new State on November 1, 1956, under the provisions of State Reorganisation Act. It sums up the disappointment of all non-Mysoreans over naming the new state as “Mysore.”
A little less than a century earlier, the seeds of unification of the Kannada speaking areas into a state were sown in the region which is now referred to as North Karnataka and Dharwad was the epicentre of the movement.
In his book ‘Karnataka Ekikarana Haagu Namakarana’, published by Karnataka Legislative Assembly Secretariat (2005), the then Head of the Department of History of Kannada University, Hampi, C.R. Govindaraju, writes that the unified state not getting the name ‘Karnataka’ was a matter of great disappointment for those who had fought for unification. Even among those in the Mysore regions there were many including writers, artistes, politicians who were upset over the State not being named Karnataka and constantly fought for renaming.
Debates in legislature
Prominent among those who made consistent efforts in the State legislature to get the name changed was freedom fighter and legislator Andanappa Doddameti from the present Gadag district.. He moved a proposal the very next year (September 30, 1957) in the Assembly, which however got buried in the legislature documents.
In fact, in the same year of unification, the then Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly M. Ramappa, along with 30 other members favouring the move, had tabled a proposal to rename the State as ‘Karnataka’. The proposal of Ramappa was again tabled before the Assembly on April 6, 1960, but put off indefinitely. Subsequently Lingasugur M.L. Basavanagouda (April 25, 1961) raised it. When MLA R.S. Patil (August 2, 1962) raised it with the support of 51 members, it did not receive much support when put to voting.
The following years saw many writers, thinkers supporting the cause, and several associations and organisations with ‘Karnataka’ in their names were formed. The 43rd All India Kannada Literary Convention presided over by writer K.G. Kundanagar at Gadag in 1961 had passed a resolution urging the state government to rename Mysore State as Karnataka. Litterateurs like B.M. Shri, Kuvempu, Masti Venkatesh Iyyengar, Aa.Na. Krishnarao, Ti.Ta. Sharma, Da.Ra. Bendre and others were the reasons behind birth of ‘Karnataka Sangha’ in schools and colleges.
Interestingly, various committees including Wanchoo Committee, S.K. Dhar committee, J.V.P. Committee and State Reorganisation Commission had referred to the Kannada regions as “Karnataka” in their reports. But the issue of renaming continued getting postponed in the legislative assembly with legislators divided over the issue. The delay and apathy towards northern districts had even led to voices of separate state being raised.
Urs catches the pulse
And it was after Devaraj Urs became the Chief Minister that the proposal gained political strength required to get the legislative assent. Prof. C.R. Govindaraju writes that initially Urs seemed unclear in his stand and at times he was even branded as one opposed to the idea. But understanding the pulse of the people, he had sought approval of his party (Congress) during the 1972 elections in favour of ‘Karnataka’. And when he became the Chief Minister, it was imperative that he took up the issue.” On 27.7.1972, he tabled the resolution on renaming the State, which was put to vote by the Speaker K.S. Nagaratnamma, which was passed unanimously. When Urs raised the slogan ‘Karnatakakke’, the members responded with ‘Jayavaagali’. S. Bangarappa and Vatal Nagaraj and threw jasmine in the air to celebrate.
The resolution got the assent of the Legislative Council on 31.7.1972. Loksabha gave its assent to the new nomenclature on 30.7. 1973 and Rajyasabha on 8.8.1973. The then President of India V.V. Giri gave his assent to the proposal on 8.10.1973. Mohanlal Sukhadia was the Governor of Karnataka then.
In her congratulatory speech, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said, “The name Karnataka has an ancient history. The name denotes our ancient culture and tradition... It represents various aspirations. People of Karnataka should get ready to for fulfilment of these aspirations”.
Finally, the 17th anniversary of the unification was observed as “Karnataka Rajyotsava” on November 1, 1973, and once again Hampi hosted a grand celebration. On November 3, the ‘Karnataka Jyoti’ reached Veeranarayana Temple in Gadag. A grand celebration was held under the chairmanship of then minister K.H. Patil at Gadag Cotton Sale Society where along with Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, Devaraj Urs was felicitated.