After Darjeeling Hill Council, an autonomous Kodagu Council?
With the West Bengal government signing an agreement with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for a new Darjeeling Hill Council with more autonomy, the Karnataka government could initiate similar steps to pave the way for an autonomous hill council in Kodagu (Coorg) on the lines of the Darjeeling Council.
The newly elected chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee signed the agreement with the GJM on Tuesday after the later agreed to put its demand for a separate ‘Gorkhaland’ in the backburner.
The creation of an autonomous hill council could remove the sense of alienation being felt by the people of Kodagu after the latter’s merger with Karnataka following the reorganization of the states in 1956.
Kodagu, which was an independent State prior to its merger with Karnataka, suffered neglect at the hands of successive governments in Karnataka. A number of organizations started demanding separate statehood for Kodagu.
Though an autonomous hill council was set up in Darjeeling in 1988, the council collapsed after Subhash Ghising of the Gorkha National Liberation Front was forced to resign as head of the council by the supporters of Bimal Gurung led by GJM.
Asked what was the magic formula that resolved the dispute, the West Bengal chief minister replied: “The magic formula is our heart. If the intention is good, there is always a way out and the magic formula is peace.”
EDITOR’S VIEW: The demand for a separate state for Kodagu is no more a viable proposition. The need of the hour is economic development of Kodagu, especially its woeful infrastructure. This can be better achieved by an autonomous council with adequate financial powers.
This is the ideal time for the Codava National Council led by N.U. Nachappa to give up his impractical demand for a ‘Codavaland’, an exclusive home land for the Kodavas (Coorgs). Nachappa should carry all sections of the people living in Kodagu to demand an autonomous hill council to ensure the all-round development of the neglected region.