Kalyana Karnataka: Cong govt passed Art 371J in 2013, but work of Vaijnath Patil, ex-CMs cannot be forgotten

Kalyana Karnataka: Cong govt passed Art 371J in 2013, but work of Vaijnath Patil, ex-CMs cannot be forgotten

Right from AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge to district-level leaders claim that youth in the region are getting special reservation in education and employment because of the special status.

KALABURGI: While the implementation of five guarantees has been the main plank for Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, the other equally important factor for the party in Kalyana Karnataka is its role in bringing an amendment to Article 371 J of the Constitution, benefiting the region. But BJP counters this claim.

Right from AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge to district-level leaders claim that youth in the region are getting special reservation in education and employment because of the special status. Also, infrastructure development throughout the region, comprising Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Vijayanagar and Ballari districts, is because of the amendment. In public meetings, they repeatedly stress on Congress and its leaders, especially Kharge -- who was the Union minister then, being the bulwarks behind the amendment.

Kharge has been pointing out in his speeches that senior party leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi had promised ahead of the 2009 parliamentary polls that if Congress comes to power, it would bring in the amendment and that promise was kept. Kharge has said he met leaders of all parties several times and persuaded them to help the government pass the Amendment Bill. As a result, it was passed unanimously in both Houses, he has been asserting.

In the same breath he has also pointed out that BJP senior leader LK Advani, who was the then home minister, had rejected the proposal in 2002.

Khuba counters

But Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Bhagavant Khuba, who is Bidar BJP MP, counters this claim, saying the Bill was passed because of support by all parties in Parliament.

Kharge tries to take credit, but he has forgotten the contributions of former minister late Vaijnath Patil, whose brainchild was the amendment to Article 371 J, he adds.

Vaijnath Patil’s contribution

The issue was not at all in the foreground before 1995. When JDS supremo HD Deve Gowda was chief minister in 1995, Vaijnath Patil of Kalaburagi was the urban development minister. Patil knew about the Article 371 D that provided special reservation in employment and education in Telangana of the then Andhra Pradesh and an amendment to Article 371 (2) to create a separate development board for Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra.

The Centre amended the Articles for Telangana and Vidarbha and Marathwada as they could not achieve progress because they were previously ruled by erstwhile Nizams of Hyderabad.

Patil and former minister C Gurunath visited the three regions and studied the functioning of the amendments and how people were benefiting. They later submitted a report to the Karnataka Government.

Pressure from CMs

Between 1998 and 2009, former CMs, late JH Patel of Janata Dal, SM Krishna and late Dharam Singh of Congress and BS Yediyurappa of BJP wrote to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then Home Minister Advani and then PM Manmohan Singh respectively about the amendment.

The first official communication on the proposal from the state to the Centre was sent on October 31, 1998 by then CM JH Patel. Writing to Vajpayee, he stated that the amendment would provide regional reservation in employment and education as well as for creating a regional development board. His successors Krishna and Dharam Singh continued the pressure.

On November 12, 2001, Krishna wrote to then Union Home Minister LK Advani reminding him of the letter written by JH Patel.

Proposal is not feasible: Advani

On November 22, 2002, Advani, who was then deputy prime minister, responded to Krishna, saying he had examined the matter, and the circumstances in Andhra Pradesh that led to the insertion of Article 371-D in the Constitution in 1973 do not exist in Karnataka. The Centre does not find the proposal of the Karnataka government feasible, he replied.

Manmohan too was not in favour

Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too was not in favour of the proposal. On January 12, 2009, he wrote to then CM Yediyurappa that the high-powered committee on redressal of regional imbalance did not recommend special status for the region. But Singh stated that the Centre could consider a proposal to establish development boards in Karnataka, including one in Hyderabad-Karnataka area as has been done in Maharashtra.

Article amended in 2013

As pressure from the public and organisations piled up, Congress used it as an issue in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, assuring people that Article 371 would be amended if it comes to power. Voters of the region supported Congress in that poll, and the party government kept up its promise and issued the gazette notification on January 2, 2013, for special reservation and for setting up the Hyderabad-Karnataka Regional Development Board. The rules were framed later that year.

Though it is a fact that Kharge played a major role, contributions of chief ministers from 1998 till 2009 cannot also be forgotten.

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