By P.T. Bopanna
Will the renewed demand for Gorkhaland in West Bengal have its echo in Kodagu (Coorg) district of Karnataka?
Bimal Gurung (in picture), the undisputed leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), has declared: “We want Gorkhaland and nothing else.”
The immediate provocation for the violent agitation is the action of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal to impose Hindi on the Nepali-speaking people in the Darjeeling hills.
It is no secret that the BJP-led Modi government at the Centre is sympathetic to the demands of GJM. An ally of the BJP, Gurung has kept the Union government in the loop on the ongoing agitation.
A section of the original inhabitants of Kodagu are in favour of a separate Coorg State, as it existed prior to its merger with Karnataka in 1956.
Though people by and large in Kodagu are not favour of a separate Coorg State, the policies of the successive Karnataka governments, have alienated the people of Kodagu.
The present Siddaramaiah-led Congress government’s action of celebrating the birth anniversary of the 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan has not gone down well with the original inhabitants of Kodagu. Tipu, who allegedly massacred the Kodavas in a treacherous manner, is the most-hated ruler among the Kodavas. No doubt the move to celebrate his birth anniversary in Kodagu led to violent clashes. That the anniversary was repeated last year, goes to show the Congress government’s selfish motive of wooing the minority votes by promoting communal hatred in Kodagu.
Some of the actions of the Siddaramaiah government have been detrimental to the interests of Kodagu, including the recent move to reject the Kasturirangan report to benefit the timber lobby. The Kodagu district administration has failed to tackle the menace of criminal elements – the real estate, sand and timber mafia engaged in looting the natural wealth of the district which has affected the flow of water in the Cauvery river which takes its birth in Coorg.
Unless the government takes steps to preserve the ecology of the region and curb the rampant corruption in the district administration, the murmurs for a separate statehood for Kodagu could gain momentum in the future.