Kushalanagar: It was an unprecedented rally that brought people from all walks of life together to fight for a genuine cause-demanding, carving out separate “Cauvery taluk” in Kodagu district using 19 gram panchayats of Suntikoppa and Kushalnagar hoblis.
The shops and establishments downed shutters voluntarily to lend support to the rally right from the morning. The organisers led by Cauvery Taluk Formation Central Committee President V P Shashidhar galvanised troupes who ranged from ordinary footpath vendors, retired soldiers, women, people representing Muslim and Christian religious organisations, not leaving behind enthusiastic young college students and staff members of various other organisations.
The rally, which started at around 11 AM brought traffic to a grinding halt on the busy Madikeri-Kushalnagar highway as the people marched shouting slogans demanding separate taluk. The town witnessed spontaneous bandh amid heavy police presence with prohibitory orders in place. People taking part in the rally covered 6 kilometres by foot in total marching through thoroughfares including Ratha Beedhi, Market Road before culminating at the bus-stand where a public meeting was held in the end. Some well-wishers and organisations paid on their own towards all expenses incurred on the event including free meal to around 12,000 participants at the end after the public meeting.
Youth danced to the beat of the drums, sang songs in united voice lending total support and adding glitter to the rally. For many, it reminded of the rally led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as opposition leader against the mining barons of Bellary. The town had not witnessed unity among the people to this magnitude in recent times setting aside party and religious differences to come together to fight for a cause, which clearly indicated the genuine cry and demand of the people from the region.
When the meeting began, local BJP MLA Appachu Ranjan, MLCs Sunil Subramani representing BJP and Veena Achaiah representing Congress aired their views in support of the demand for a separate taluk to pacify the agitating crowds but it appeared they fell short of the resolve owing to their political compulsions. Most Zilla Panchayat members, Taluk Panchayat members and elected representatives of 19 GPs were present to press for a separate taluk. Deep divisions were evident over naming new taluk as Cauvery taluk, despite organisers claim of former chief minister Late Gundu Rao proposing the name two decades ago.
V P Shashidhar, spearheading the campaign, placed bare facts to stake claim for a separate taluk and urged the people to take example from Diddalli agitation which compelled the ruling regime to act and decide towards a solution. On behalf of the organisers, he set a deadline of December 31 for the government and warned of fast unto death protest, if the demand was not met by then. He called on the people to come forward and spare an hour weekly on a regular basis to keep the ball rolling and assured of working in parallel in political spheres to realise the dream.
He said no government could go forward setting aside the aspirations of the people and most agitations fructified purely on the basis of people’s relentless fight and added even this agitation had to move on similar lines.
Citing Dandeli being chosen a taluk to placate minister Deshpande, Kaup and Brahmavar in Udupi district being named taluks to appease local leaders, he termed the government neglecting the demand for separate Cauvery taluk with Kushalanagar as centre as unfortunate despite the area fulfilling eligibility criteria including boundary demarcation.
People travel 80-100 kms a day to reach the present taluk headquarters Somwarpet only to return unhappy on most occasions braving dangers to their lives from wild elephants on a regular basis, he stated.
The formation of new taluk will not result in huge financial burden to the state exchequer as anticipated with basic infrastructure already in place, Shashidhar claimed and added instead would help the area to develop on a rapid scale in Industrial, tourism and commercial sectors.
It will also wipe the tears and hardships faced by common people of most revenue villages in the area, he explained.
Congress Working President Dinesh Gundu Rao was absent but is understood to have assured a delegation to work for the cause. The chief minister is understood to have sought fresh set of complete documents staking claim for a separate taluk to make a fresh assessment.
With government getting ready to form 50 taluks including Mudargi, the latest addition, the only question that remains now, “Will it yield in this case”?