The Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka is facing troubles as leaders from north Karnataka are not happy over the discriminatory practice of Chief Minister, Kumaraswamy towards the region. In the budget allocation, the government was found favoring south Karnataka. Also, the majority of the ministers have been chosen from this region only. South Karnataka provides the main voter base for JD(S) while Congress’s voter base is distributed almost evenly across the state. However, in the assembly elections, BJP performed exceptionally well in north Karnataka while Congress and JD(S) performed well in the southern part of the state. The Karnataka Kumaraswamy government seems to be targeting the people of the north for not having voted to the ruling party. This has infuriated BJP leaders as well as prominent Congress leaders from the northern region.
The Karnataka government had chosen Partap Shetty, a leader from south Karnataka for the position of chairman of the legislative council. The Lingayat leaders from the north, S R Patil of Congress and Bsavaraj Horatti of JD(S) were denied the position despite being frontrunners from the respective parties. In fact, Basavaraj Horatti was earlier chosen pro-tem chairman of Karnataka Vidhan Parishad. But both of them were denied the position.
Lingayats are dominant in north Karnataka which is single largest community in the state. Congress and JD(S) have sidelined the dominant community of the state because they did not vote for them. The government also denied the separate religion status to the community which was one of the main poll planks of the Congress party. S R Patil is said to be denied the cabinet position for leading the community protest over the demand of separate religion status. “There are five ministers from the north that has 41 legislators, while there are nine ministers out of 36 legislators from the south,” said Patil. “Our demand is that the party should rectify the imbalance and differences between south and north Karnataka,” Patil added. Patil is likely to write to party president Rahul Gandhi demanding justice for north Karnataka.
There is already a significant economic and social divide between north and south parts of Karnataka. North Karnataka is dominated by the Lingayat community while Vokkaligas are the dominant community in the southern part. Vokkaligas are the main voter base of the JD(S) with CM Kumaraswamy himself belonging to the community. The party won almost all the seats in south Karnataka and hence he has chosen most of the ministers from this very region. In the state budget, almost all the new projects came to south Karnataka. The southern part of the state is already rich given the prominence of the industrial and service sector in this part of the state. The spending of public money to a comparatively richer region will further strengthen the regional divide.
The northern part of the state is primarily agricultural with little industrial development and small service sector. The farmers in the northern part were not happy with the previous Congress government as its policies were discriminatory towards them. Therefore, they voted for the BJP and played an important role in making BJP the single largest party in the Vidhan Sabha elections. But Congress shrewdly allied with JD(S) to form the government and is continuing with its discriminatory practice towards the northern part of the state. The regional divide and discrimination towards the region by this government further seeks to alienate people of north and fuels the demand for a separate state. The alliance government led by CM Kumaraswamy has been on the defensive mode in the winter session of the state assembly as it has not been able to deliver on any of its promises. Unfulfilled demands have resulted in a widespread protest from farmers across the state. So far the government has waived the loans of only 800 farmers despite a budget of 34,000 crores for the same.