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Home > India > News > Report

K'taka 3rd Phase: All about bridging the divide

Vicky Nanjappa | May 20, 2008 13:02 IST

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It's the grand finale´┐Ż The third and final phase of the Karnataka elections, to be held on May 22, will decide the fate of candidates contesting from 69 assembly constituencies spread over eight districts.

More: Battleground Karnataka

Speaking about the third phase of polls, the attention automatically gets diverted to the Dr D M Nanjundappa Committee Report. The committee was set up by the Karnataka government in order to study and redress the problems of regional imbalance in Karnataka.

The general complaint among people was that Bangalore accounts for at least 45 per cent of the state's entire income and hence all attention was being diverted to the capital while the rest of the state remained neglected.

After a thorough study, the committee came to the conclusion that several districts, especially northern Karnataka, needed immediate attention as the divide was extremely evident in these parts of the state.

A large part of northern Karnataka will be polling on May 22 and the demand by the people from this part is clear. They want the implementation of the Dr D M Nanjundappa Committee report, which has not been implemented by three successive governments.

The third phase of the polls will involve the districts of Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Bidar, Gulbaga, Bijapur, Bagalakot and Belgaum. Gulbarga has been identified as the most backward district in Karnataka.

The final report, which was submitted to S M Krishna who was the chief minister of Karnataka between 1999 and 2004, stated that Karnataka needed to invest Rs 31,000 crore during the first ten years to develop backward areas.

It also suggested that an additional special grant of Rs 16,000 crore over the next eight years and a budgetary allocation of Rs 15,000 crore needed to be allocated in order to solve the problem of regional imbalance.

The report also states clearly that out of the entire amount, which is needed to be spent, 60 per cent should be allocated to the backward districts in Northern Karnataka. The report further pointed out that 144 out of the 175 taluks in the state are backward, out of which 59 are in northern Karnataka.

Gulbarga and Belgaum, which are key constituencies in the third phase of the election, will need an allocation of Rs 6,400 core and Rs 3,200 crore respectively, the report had also suggested. The connectivity between these areas and Bangalore had to be improved, the report added.

While driving on the lonely streets of northern Karnataka, the divide is clear. The lands are dry and barren. Stop over and talk to a farmer and he has only sorry tales to pour out. The bullock carts outnumber the cars, water is scarce, the cotton crop has failed, and loans are yet to be paid. The list of problems is endless.

Dasappa, a farmer from Gulbarga district who sits by his field smoking a beedi says: "The elections make no sense. I am fed up of assurances. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in this area. My crop has failed and there is no word of compensation leave alone a report being implemented."

While the report managed to bring about a smile on the faces of several persons when it was initially submitted, the fact remains that almost eight years after it was submitted, it is yet to see to the light of the day. S M Krishna, during his tenure as the chief minister, had assured that the report would be implemented.

However, the report was never implemented as a result of which the people of northern Karnataka felt let down. The result was clear in the 2004 election in which the Congress was rejected. The difference to the final tally was made in rural Karnataka, who felt that the government had been unfair on this part of the state.

Although the 2004 polls did not give the Congress a mandate, it still managed to form the government with the blessings of Janata Dal-Secular supremo H D Deve Gowda. N Dharam Singh, who was made chief minister, had a chance of turning things around and not committing the mistake that his predecessor did.

Singh, who hails from northern Karnataka, too failed to keep up the promise and went his predecessor's way. Then came the JD-S-BJP combine. The budget presented by this government did take note of D M Nanjundappa Committee report. A promise was made to implement the report in a phased manner. A budgetary allocation of Rs 2,000 crore was made, but by the time the dream became a reality, the government collapsed.

With campaign on in full swing for the third phase, regional imbalance is the word that is on the lips of every leader. The Congress finds itself on the back foot regarding this issue as two of its successive governments have failed to implement this report. The JD-S and the BJP are trying their best to stake a claim on this issue on the ground that they almost made the implementation a reality.

The battle is well poised in the third phase. Kharge portrays himself as the local boy, who understands the problem better than anybody else. H D Kumaraswamy harps on as the messiah of the rural folk thanks to his rural stay programmes as chief minister. B S Yeddyurappa talks about the budget he presented and how he tried to implement the report before being stabbed on the back by the JD-S.