THE WAY FORWARD FOR KODAGU: A POLITICAL ROAD MAP
Kodagu has not gained from the merger of the Coorg State with Karnataka in 1956. Development of Kodagu district has suffered due to the neglect by successive state governments in Karnataka. The restoration of an independent Coorg state may not be a viable option at this point in time.
Ideally, as an interim measure, the Karnataka Government could consider the establishment of a Kodagu Autonomous Council to take care of the developmental needs of Kodagu district.
The question of granting separate statehood for Kodagu could be considered only after the Karnataka and Union governments come to an understanding on the need for restoring the Coorg State.
The Union Home Ministry’s recent statement that it had received demands for the creation of 10 new states, including a representation for the creation of the Coorg State in Karnataka, has once again revived the debate among the people of Kodagu on the need for separate statehood.
It was on account of the sustained agitation by the Codava National Council (CNC) headed by N. U. Nachappa that the demand for separate statehood for Kodagu has gained momentum in the last two decades. However, along the way, Nachappa dropped his demand for separate statehood and began asking for a homeland for Kodavas.
The Kodavas were the dominant community in Kodagu and were the “power behind the throne” during the reign of the Lingayat Rajas and the British. But for rare instances, right through history, the Kodavas lived in harmony with other native communities.
It is possible that Nachappa climbed down from the demand for separate statehood for Kodagu to a mere homeland for Kodavas under pressure from the media and pro-Kannada groups.
At present, politicians of various hues have hijacked the agenda for separate statehood from Nachappa, once the poster boy of those fighting for separate statehood. Several politicians in Kodagu, who had opposed the demand for a separate state, have now joined the bandwagon for statehood.
The way forward could be through a Kodagu Autonomous Council. The proposed Kodagu Autonomous Council may be set up on the lines of the Darjeeling Gorkha Autonomous Hill Council, an autonomous body that looks after the administration of the Darjeeling district in the state of West Bengal.
Source: ‘Rise and Fall of the Coorg State’ by P.T. Bopanna. Rolling Stone Publications, 2009. E-book available with Amazon Kindle