Bengaluru: Mindful about its impact amid divide within and lack of support, pro-Kannada organisations withdrew its Karnataka bandh call on Dec. 31 (today), demanding a complete ban on the activities of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) which has been campaigning for long to merge Marathi speaking regions in Belagavi with Maharashtra.
Leaders of several Kannada outfits under the leadership of Vatal Nagaraj, the leader of the Kannada Okkuta, met Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai last evening, ahead of withdrawing the bandh.
The organisations will however be staging a protest rally at the Town Hall in Bengaluru today demanding a ban on MES. “Heeding the request of the Chief Minister and several of our pro-Kannada leaders, I have conceded. There will be no bandh tomorrow, we have withdrawn the bandh, but we may hold some protests,” Nagaraj told reporters after meeting with the CM.
“The CM has assured that his Government will do everything possible honestly in accordance with the law to ban MES and requested us to withdraw the bandh. Also earlier in the day, leaders of several organisations put pressure on me to postpone the bandh citing the inconvenience it may cause to the people and business ahead of New Year,” he said.
Chief Minister Bommai said he has discussed all issues with Nagaraj and others and everyone is on one page to protect the interest of Kannada, Kannadigas and Karnataka and thanked the organisations for withdrawing the bandh call.
To a question on their demand for banning MES, he said, “all those things have been discussed, I have already stated publicly that the Government is examining it legally. I have brought the same to their notice.” However, another prominent leader of Kannada Okkuta, Sa Ra Govindu clarified that only Dec. 31 bandh has been called off and that they will call for a meeting and decide further action, in case their demand for banning MES is not met in the days to come.