Pro-Kannada Organisations Withdraw Tomorrow's Karnataka Bandh

Pro-Kannada associations cancelled the Karnataka bandh that they had scheduled on the 31st of December 2021, seeking a total ban on the operations of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi (MES), which has been pushing for a long time to unite Marathi language districts in Belagavi with Maharashtra.

Representatives of many Kannada groups met with Party Chief Basavaraj Bommai this evening, led by Vatal Nagaraj, the head of the Kannada Okkuta.

On Friday, at 10:30 a.m., the associations will hold a protest march at the city's town hall, requesting the MES ban. The Karnataka Rakshna Vedike staged a comparable demonstration today. After speaking with the Chief Minister and numerous pro-Kannada politicians, Nagaraj told journalists that he had agreed to the Chief Minister's demand. There would be no bandh tomorrow; the bandh has been cancelled; but, protests may take place. The Chief Minister has told us that his administration would do all necessary to outlaw MES honestly and lawfully and has asked us to end the bandh.

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He further claimed that previously in the day, representatives of various organisations pressed him to delay the bandh, stressing the potential for disruption to people and businesses as the New Year approaches. Chief Minister Bommai stated he had discussed all problems with Nagaraj as well as others and everybody is on the same page to safeguard Kannadigas Kannada, and Karnataka's interests, and praised the organisations for calling off the bandh.

In response to a query about their demand that MES be banned, he replied that all of those issues have been discussed and that he has already declared publicly that the administration is looking into it. He has brought it to their attention. Nevertheless, another senior Kannada Okkuta leader, Sa Ra Govindu, stressed that just tomorrow's bandh has indeed been put off and that if their desire for the banning of MES is not satisfied in the coming days, they will hold a meeting and consider further action.

He went on to say that they have not given the Chief Minister any deadlines and that he has requested time to speak with professionals, thus the bandh has been postponed to a later date. They will determine their future direction by convening a conference of all Kannada groups. Other organizers suggested that if their expectations are not met by the 22nd of January, they might declare a bandh. Last week, pro-Kannada organisations called for a one-day state-wide bandh on the 31st of December to seek a full ban on Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi's operations in the state due to its recurrent anti-Karnataka and anti-Kannada actions.

The demand comes after recent incidences of MES militants reportedly burning the Kannada flag in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and defacing the sculpture of historical figure Sangolli Rayanna in Belagavi.

The MES, a Marathi organisation, has long advocated for Belagavi's Marathi-speaking districts to be merged with Maharashtra. Numerous commercial institutions, including the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association, the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC), Auto, schools and college associations, shopping malls organisations, and others, have decided to offer just support and encouragement and have stated that they will not take part in the bandh and therefore might continue to operate as usual.