OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion through Blogs and Podcasts.

The entire state of Karnataka barring the coastal districts observed a dawn-to-dusk bandh on Wednesday in response to the call given by Kannada organisations over the Belgaum border issue with Maharashtra.  Schools, colleges, cinema halls were closed all over the state except in the coastal districts. Bangalore came to a standstill with the bandh being total: shops, hotels, offices, educational institutions, government offices, banks, theatres, malls and other establishments remained closed. The bandh was called by Kannada Rakshana Vedike led by Narayana Gowda and other Kannada movement leaders Vatal Nagaraj, Sa Ra Govindu and Kannada Sahitya Parishath president Chandrashekar. The Rajkumar fans association was also a party to the bandh call. The bandh achieved near total success on account of the support it recieved from the principal political parties JD-S, BJP and the congress. The bandh’s success was also attributed to the precautionary measures taken by the public at large which had the Rajkumar funeral violence fresh in its mind.

The success of the bandh is a grim reminder to modern India that a motley crowd of ruffians patronised by a few political busybodies in search of a cause, can reduce to naught the spirit of Enterprise and civic progress in Bangalore by calling for a shutdown at free will with no fear of consequences. Kannada politics has reminded us once again that Bangalore can be reduced to being no different than a Lucknow or a Patna if political interests choose to do so and the Government of the day will be a willing partner in crime.

Today’s general shutdown in Karnataka raises an urgent and important question, What do we want Modern India to be ?Do we want it to be the same old place where an unruly few hold our civic liberties and our way of life to ransom while being encouraged by a dormant Government and an Environment of Tolerance


Do we want it to be a Symbol of Modern Civic Governance where Free Enterprise is allowed to operate unfettered by political goings and comings and Individual Freedom is respected

Let us put this whole issue into perspective.

Bangalore is a very unique city, given its close proximity to Andhra and Tamil Nadu. While it is the capital of Karnataka it has a large non-Kannadiga population to the point where Kannadigas can almost be considered a minority. The  massive influex of Professionals in the wake of the I,T, boom has further contributed to the cosmopolitan nature of the City. It is this cosmpolitan transformation that has threatened a few parochial political have-beens who see in this transformation an opportunity to ratchet up the jingoistic rhetoric and make themselves politically relevant. It is this same parochial politics that was responsible for the insane action of the karnataka government for de-recognizing english medium schools recently. It is also the same mindset which some time back saw the same motley crowd of ruffians who swear by Rajkumar to lobby the Government that non-Kannada had a delayed release in Bangalore in an act of shameless protectionism. So time again, be it Rajkumar’s kidnapping, Rajkumar’s death or now the Belgaum non-issue, this motley crowd has created a situation where a minisicule few have the arrogance to take an entire city to ransom while the Government condones their behavior at the cost of loss to business and personal freedom and at grave risk to personal security.

That a Karnataka wide bandh by political non-entities was called and was observed in toto on the issue of Belgaum is almost laughable. To the uninformed reader this becomes clear when one pays attention to the reasons for the bandh provided by those who called for it. The reasons ranged from:

against the “stepmotherly” attitude of the Union Government towards the State 

“partisan” attitude of the Centre towards Karnataka in its border dispute with Maharashtra

What has stumped Offstumped is that none of these claims are based on facts. The root of the problem is October 19 as the deadline for the Centre’s affidavit in the matter as Maharashtra in its original suit claimed Belgaum as part of its territory and Karnataka flexing its muscles to retain the region “at any cost”. The Centre on september 29th decided to file a “written statement” in the Supreme Court on the Belgaum dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra “without stating any side or stand” and “only explaining the position”.  

The following questions need answers:

1. Who are these handful of ruffians ?

2. How can anyone claim outrage, offense or anger over a non-issue ?

3. How can anyone arrogate to themselves the justification to behave any which way they want over such dubious anger ?

4. How in the hell can the Karnataka Government get away with this by further encouraging these kinds of acts by not acting tough

5. Where is the accountability for loss to businesses ?

Offstumped Bottomline: The emotive concept of linguistic basis for states is an idea past its sell by date. Economic development and Migration across the country is rendering language irrelvant. The dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka over Belgaum is phony. The actions by a unruly few in Karnataka at the cost of grave loss to business is outrageous. The Supreme Court had ruled Bandh’s to be unconstitutional and had required political parties to compensate for losses on account of bandh’s. I.T. Leaders of Bangalore must go to court to hold those responsible for the Karnataka bandh accountable for their disgraceful actions. 


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