A massive rally demanding reservation for Kannadigas in private and government jobs within Karnataka saw thousands come out in support on Saturday. The protest march led by pro-Kannada organization, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, in Bengaluru is the latest push to the agenda of Kannada pride being built up ahead of the Karnataka assembly elections 2018.
Thousands of activists, supporters and leaders of Kannada organizations gathered at National College grounds and took out a rally towards freedom park. While the protestors intended to end the rally at Vidhana Soudha, the police diverted the crowds to freedom park where a memorandum listing their demands was handed over to the government. Implementation of the three-decade-old Sarojini Mahishi Committee recommendations that demands reservations in jobs for locals was the primary demand of the protestors.
An 8-point petition demanding job reservations has been put forth by the groups:
- 100 percent job reservation for Kannadigas in state government departments and state-owned industries.
- Candidates who have learnt Kannada as a language till SSLC in the school should be considered for all the jobs in central government offices and industries operating in Karnataka.
- Candidates who have learnt Kannada as a language till SSLC in schools should be considered for all the jobs in private sectors in Karnataka.
- Provision should be made to take exam in Kannada in all the competitive examinations held by state and central governments. Also, allow candidates to attend interviews in Kannada.
- All contractual or daily basis jobs in central and state government departments and industries should be provided to Kannadigas. The same rule should be applied to outsourcing companies as well.
- Candidates who have learnt Kannada as a language till SSLC in schools should be considered for all the jobs in central, private and rural banks.
- In order to consider a person as local, the person should have stayed in the state for 20 years and knowledge of local language must be mandatory. The person should have studied Kannada as one of the languages till 10th standard.
- Candidates who have studied till SSLC in Kannada medium or have studied Kannada as a language outside Karnataka should be considered as locals.
“The request for job reservation should be considered with the same seriousness that has been given to the reservation based on caste and religion. Provision should be made to punish officers who violate these rules,” the memorandum submitted by the Kannada groups read. The Kannada pride agenda is assuming an all-powerful role in the state ahead of the assembly elections.
While the Congress, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, has managed to win over Kannada sentiments with the state flag issue, rejecting Hindi sign boards at Metro stations and making Kannada a mandatory subject in schools across the state, the BJP suffers a perception problem having been considered a pro-Hindi party. Saturday’s rally reignited the fight over Kannada pride paving the way for more politics to be played around it.