KARNATAKA

Special quota, backwardness of region to become poll issues

GULBARGA, MARCH 3. The delay in amending Article 371 to extend special reservation in employment and education to people of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and backwardness of the region are some of the issues, which are likely to dominate the election campaign by major political parties.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is aiming at winning many seats in the region to assume power in the State, may find it difficult to convince the people of the region the reasons for the "failure" of the Centre to amend Article 371 though the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, had promised to do so during his visit to Gulbarga in September 2002 if the State Government submitted a proposal.

Mr. Advani had criticised the successive governments in the State for not submitting the proposal to the Centre.

The Congress is likely to use the issue to its advantage during the campaign and highlight that though the State Government had submitted the proposal, the Union Government had not acted on it.

The Janata Dal (Secular), which has made it an issue, will use it against the Congress and the BJP. Another issue to dominate the election scene is the poor railway network in the region and the "failure" of the Centre to establish a railway divisional headquarters in Gulbarga.

Though the Railway Ministry decided to establish the divisional headquarters in Gulbarga, it dropped it in view of a similar demand from people of Mangalore.

Similarly, the Congress and the BJP have to explain the reasons for the delay in taking up work on the Bidar-Gulbarga railway line.

The Congress has to explain the reason for not including the scheme in the K-RIDE project and the BJP has to convince the people on the scanty allocation to it in the railway budget.

The Congress will highlight the development of roads, particularly the World Bank aided Bidar-Srirangapatna State highway, to garner people's support.

However, the Government's "failure" to allocate funds for the development of the region as per the recommendations of the D.M. Nanjundappa Committee and the decline in the allocation to the Hyderabad-Karnataka Development Board will prove to be tricky issues during the campaign.