ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Changing Contours of the Political Regions of Karnataka

Changing Contours of the Political Regions of Karnataka

Media reports of the recent Karnataka assembly elections tended to see the state as made up of distinct regions and marked their boundaries to accord with the political–administrative territories prior to their unification in 1956. While a residual presence of regional identity still persists overdetermining class, caste and community relations, linguistic and speech practices, religious and cultural sensibilities, politically, the region has come to mean very different things in the electoral battlegrounds of the state. In recent years, equations across castes and communities have been recast precipitating intense social churning and political realignments within and across regions of yore.

Most of the psephologists and media persons who covered the recent assembly elections in Karnataka have tended to see the state as made up of distinct regions and marked their boundaries to accord with the political–administrative territories prior to their unification in 1956. The regions so identified are the former princely state of Mysuru, sometimes termed Old Mysuru; coastal Karnataka, the southern part of which was under the British Madras province and the northern with the Bombay province at the time of independence; Bombay Karnataka, formerly under the British Bombay province; and Hyderabad Karnataka, which except for the Bellary district, was part of the Nizam’s Hyderabad state. Kodagu, formerly known as Coorg, was a commissionerate province enjoying much autonomy under the Madras province, with just three assembly seats, has been largely ignored in the national reportage.

In some of the reports, this concept of region has been further specified by indicating subregions such as central Karnataka, since Old Mysuru seemed a little too large and complex for anticipation. Castes have been inserted into these regions and M N Srinivas’s concept of dominant caste has been widely employed particularly to highlight the pre-eminence of the Vokkaligas in southern Karnataka and Lingayats in northern Karnataka. How valid is this cartography to understand the political dynamics of the state after 60 years of its unification? What is being ignored or sidelined by subdividing the state into such regions and inserting a set of castes into them?

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Updated On : 4th Jun, 2018

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