UNIFICATION OF KARNATAKA
Under the aegis of the great Vijayanagara Empire, Karnataka had reached a high pinnacle of glory in religion, history, fine arts, language, literature, political administration and social traditions through which a united strong and vigorous spirit of Nationalism could express itself. Soon after the battle of Rakkasatangadgi in 1565 AD, however the dismemberment of Karnataka was complete.
Such disintegrated parts of Karnataka suffered a setback in various fields of life for more than 200 years, when again practically the entire Karnataka region was brought, though for a short period, under the dominion of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Ironically, Hyder and Tipu also imposed Islamic culture and Persian language on parts of which had escaped the yoke of the Bijapur and Maratha rule.
After the fall of Tipu Sultan, within the short span of 40 years or so, the power of Peshwas also collapsed. Sir Thomas Munro, who mopped up the last vestiges of the Peshwa power, an able administrator and a fine Military leader of the East India Company proposed and pressed for the formation of Kannada speaking areas under one administrative unit, in 1826 AD.
He advocated that the regions south of the Krishna river and portions of Sholapur, Kollapur, Sangli and Miraj may be separated from the Bombay Presidency and transferred to Madras Presidency to facilitate administration, education and social harmony among the Kannada speaking people. If the proposal of this farsighted Statesman had been accepted and implemented by the East India Company and the Government of India at the early stage, Karnataka would have not been subjected to the tragedy of disintegration and subsequent suffering lasting for more than 125 years.
Consequently, the injustice, inconvenience, hardships suffered by those linguistic areas which were clubbed together in different and distant administrative unit, naturally, therefore, give rise to the movement for the linguistic unity and for the formation of linguistic provinces.
The impact of the British rule was the cultural awakening in the different regions of India. Karnataka, like other states of India, witnessed the cultural Renaissance. European scholars particularly missionaries as well as Kannada stalwarts promoted the Kannada Renaissance. Kannada newspapers also accelerated the cultural awakening. One may recall the services of those now no more with us, Prof. B. M. Sreekantaiah, Sri Hanagal Kumaraswamy, Hardekar Manjappa, Aluru Venkata Rao and many other literary and social leaders who worked with devotion and zeal for the cause of Kannada. Men of letters thus provided the necessary emotional and philosophical background of the agitation for the ‘Karnataka Ekikarana’, which was taken up and was organized by politicians like S.Nijalingappa and Kengal.Hanumantaiah and many others.
Since the last quarter of the 19th century, the movement gradually gained momentum and wider appeal and as a result of organized and sustained efforts, separate provinces like Bihar, Orissa, Sindh were created. This gave further fillip to such movements in other parts of the country.
Formation of Associations
It is no wonder that the different parts of dismembered Karnataka were also animated with a desire for reunion under a common administrative unit. By the end of the century, several associations like Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha were formed to revive Kannada literature and arts and to develop an urge for unity and self expression among the people of the Kannada speaking areas. The establishment of the Kannada Sahitya Parishad , an all Karnataka body in 1959 was the culmination of the earliest efforts and aspirations of Kannada people striving for unity. It is the first Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held at Bangalore in 1915 AD held the stake for the United Karnataka Province and registered. Another premier body, Karnataka Sabha was started at Dharwad with a definite object of achieving the political goal of United Karnataka Province. In 1918 AD, the Sabha urged the National Congress to reorganize the Congress circles on linguistic basis. In 1920 AD, the first Karnataka Political Conference was held at Dharwad where a resolution demanding the formation of a separate Karnataka Province was unanimously passed. The Congress then accepted the principle of Linguistic circles. As a result, the jurisdiction of the Karnataka Provincial Congress Committee was extended to almost all the Kannada speaking areas including Mysore State, Coorg, the Nizam Karnataka districts, and the native States in North Karnataka.
Karnataka Ekikarana Sangha
The organized and ceaseless efforts of Kannadigas to unite themselves in the National work despite their being divided under numerous administrations resulted in the unique success of the congress session held at Belagavi in 1924 AD. The first Unification Conference also was held there. Since then, the ‘Karnataka Ekikarana Sangha’ organized several similar Conferences in various parts of Karnataka.
Due to the tiresome efforts of Ekikarana Sangha, the AICC held at Bombay in 1927 AD has resolved that the readjustment of provinces taken up on linguistic basis. The Committee was also of opinion that a beginning might be made by constituting Andhra, Sindh, and Karnataka into separate provinces.
Karnataka Ekikarana Samithi, in 1928 AD, has made a representation through KPCC to the Motilal Nehru Committee. In reply, the Committee said in its report that there was a strong prima facie case for unification and formation of Karnataka.
In 1929-30 AD, the case of Karnataka was placed before the Simon Commission which also recommended reviewing and if possible, the resettling of the provincial boundaries of India as early as possible.
Since 1930 AD, numerous cultural literacy and political Conferences were pressing for this claim and the entire press of Karnataka had been consistently clamoring for it. The Congress Working Committee, therefore, resolved in 1938 AD, that as soon as it assumed power at the Center, it would take up the question of the formation of linguistic provinces. Mahatma Gandhiji then admitted “the creation of Karnataka as a separate province cannot be resisted and I cherish the idea of Karnataka province being formed”.
The Karnataka Unification Conference was held at Bombay in 1946 AD. Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who inaugurated the Conference had assured that the first acts of free India would be to remove the handicaps of disintegration which the British had imposed on Karnataka and other States. The then Mysore Government also supported the move of Unification of Karnataka in a Cabinet Resolution.
During the General Elections of 1952 AD, the problem assumed such an importance to become a live issue. The Akhila Karnataka Prantha Rachana Sammelana was held at Bangalore so as to synchronise with the Meeting of the AICC and passed a resolution unanimously that Karnataka State should be formed including Mysore and that the Maharaja of Mysore should be the Raja Pramukh of such a State.
The AICC in its session at Hyderabad in January 1953 AD has adopted a resolution to the effect that apart from Andhra, no other linguistic State should be formed for the time being. But the bold stand taken by the then Chief Minister of Mysore, Kengal.Hanumanthaiah, urging the Session to expedite redistribution of States on the basis of linguistically and culturally homogenous and financially viable units and his unequivocal statement regarding the formation of Karnataka by the inclusion of Mysore State and of all Kannada speaking areas of Bombay, Madras and Coorg States refuted the idea that Mysore was not in favour of unification. The subsequent transfer of seven taluks of Bellary district to Mysore State in 1953 AD further established the Mysore viewpoint.
The Government of India appointed the States Reorganization Commission, popularly known as Fazal Ali Commission, and the KPCC appointed a Committee to draft a memorandum to be submitted to the Commission. The Commission accepted the principle of linguistic States and recommended early formation of such States in its report.
New Mysore State
At long last, the Karnataka State called the new Mysore State was inaugurated by the President of India Dr.Babu Rajendra Prasad on November 1, 1956. As they achieved their long cherished objective, the people of Karnataka rejoiced over the emergence of the United Karnataka State.
Subsequently, the State was renamed as Karnataka on November 1, 1973 by the then Chief Minister D.Devaraja Urs.