While criticism is pouring in from across Karnataka over former Minister and MLA Umesh Katti’s demand for separate statehood for north Karnataka, protests were held in Belgaum on Thursday over his statement and on the border issue.
While one pro-Kannada organisation staged a protest in front of the residence of Mr. Katti at Shivabasav Nagar in Belgaum, another held a demonstration before Kittur Channamma statue in Belgaum seeking a special legislature session to discuss issues concerning the border row. Meanwhile, the city, which witnessed sporadic cases of communal violence in the last few days, has returned to normality. The police have intensified bandobast in sensitive areas.
In Bangalore, Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar demanded that the BJP expel Mr. Katti. Addressing presspersons here, Mr. Shivakumar said the BJP should refrain from double standards and expel him from the party for his divisionary politics. Asked whether the Congress would take action against former MLA B.C. Patil for his support for separate statehood, the Minister said the party would initiate action against him if he continued in the same vein.
Mr. Shivakumar said north Karnataka, particularly Belgaum, was well-developed and on a par with south Karnataka. Farmers of Belgaum and other parts of north Karnataka have been harvesting good crops utilising irrigation and river water sources, he said.
Earlier at the Congress office here, Home Minister K J George said that police would take all steps to ensure peace and normality in the border areas of the State and that Mr. Katti’s statement was not a threat to the State’s unity.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and leaders across the social and political spectrum in the State condemned Mr Katti’s statement on division of the State.
‘Act against him’
In Chitradurga, Minister for Social Welfare H. Anjaneya said Mr. Katti was trying to gain publicity by issuing such irresponsible statements. “If the BJP leaders have ‘guts’, they should act against the MLA and give tell him to refrain from such actions,” he said.