Gandhiji’s Early Visits to Karnataka :
Meanwhile, on returning from South Africa in 1915, when Gandhiji (1869- 1948) visited Madras, at the request of D.V. Gundappa, he made a short visit to Bangalore on May 8th 1915 to unveil the portrait of Gopala Krishna Gokhale, and on this travel to Bangalore, earlier he was garlanded and honoured on the platform at the Bangarapet Railway Station by the local Gujarati merchants. In fact, this was his first visit to the Princely State of Mysore. In 1916 he visited Belgaum and stayed there for 5 days by inaugurating the Bombay State Political Conference. Later, the first Karnataka State Political Conference was held at Dharwad in 1920, and according to its decision, nearly 800 people from Karnataka attended the Nagpur Congress in 1920. At Nagpur, Karnataka secured a separate provincial Congress Committee (1921) and GangadharaRao Deshpande of Belgaum was made the first K.P.C.C. President. In the meantime, as a part of Khilafat Movement, Gandhi visited Bangalore on 11-8-1920 and after addressing the public speech, he left for Madras. A week later, while returning from his Madras tour, Gandhi visited Kasaragod and Mangalore on 19-8-1920. During the same year, on November 7th, Gandhi visited Nippani, Chikkodi, Hukkeri, Sankeshwar and halted at Belgaum. On 10th November he visited Dharwad and on the following day after addressing the gatherings at Hubli and Gadag, he left for Miraj. During 1921, he visizted Bagalkot, Bijapur and Kolhar on 27th and 28th May. In the same year, unavoidable circumstances forced him to stay at Bellary Railway Station for few hours on 30th September night. Later he proceeded to Guntkal in the morning. Meanwhile, Non Co-operation Movement of 1921-22 saw many lawyers giving up their practice and many students boycotting schools and colleges. Khilaphat Movement was also launched with this. Nearly 50 National Schools were started in Karnataka and over 70 persons from the British Districts courted arrest. Picketeers were fired on in Dharwad and Bangalore, and three Khilaphat workers died in Dharwad and two in Bangalore Cantonment. In the meantime Dr. Hardikar from Karnataka, organised Hindusthani Seva Dal, a voluntary corps with Hubli as its all-India headquarters. The Belgaum (39th meet) Congress of 1924 (20th December to 27th December), the only Congress session ever presided over by Gandhiji was a grand success, and was greatly responsible for public awakening in the State. Gangadhara Rao Deshpande, Hanumanta Rao Kaujalgi and Shrinivasarao Kaujalgi of Bijapur, Tekur of Bellary and Karnad Sadashiva Rao of Mangalore were some of the early leaders of Congress from Karnataka.
Civil Disobedience Movement
Later, the Civil Disobedience Movement launched by Gandhiji in 1930, began in Karnataka with Salt Sathyagraha at Ankola, followed by various law breaking programmes like Jungle Sathyagraha, Picketing of liquor shops, Non-payment of Pasture Tax (hullubanni) and finally No-Tax Campaign when peasants refused to pay land revenue. Over 2,000 people courted arrest in the British districts with the Belgaum District’s quota being the biggest i.e., 750. The movement was resumed in 1932 after the nine-months lull following the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, with greater vigour. The No-Tax Campaign launched in Siddapura and Ankola taluks was an epic struggle. The lands of over 800 families were confiscated and 1000 people went to jail in Uttara Kannada alone; among them were one hundred women, and most of them were illiterate and even conservative widows with shaven heads. They got their lands back only in 1939, and till then they suffered in silence. Programmes and propaganda to eradicate Untouchability were launced in Karnataka, when Gandhiji undertook a fast over the issue in 1932. The highlights of the programme in Karnataka was to make the Harijans to enter the Marikamba Temple of Sirsi and the Basavangudi of Bangalore. Gandhiji also toured Karnataka as a part of his programme of upliftment of Harijans in 1934 and 1936. By then, Harijan Sevak Sangh’s Karnataka unit was founded with Sardar Veeranagauda Patil as the President.
Gandhiji in Karnataka (1934)
During his 1934 tour, Gandhi visited Vidhuraswatha, Gowribidanur, Doddaballapur, Tumkur, Tyamagondalu, Nelamangala, Bangalore and halted at Mysore on 4-1-1934 ; visited Tagadur, Badanawal, Nanjanagud and halted at Mysore (5th January); proceeded to Mandya Sugar town, Maddur, Besagarahalli, Shivapura, Somanahalli, Channapatna, Ramanagar, Kanakapur, Bidadi, Kengeri and reached Bangalore (6th January). On 10th left for Vallavi Kote and after touring Tamil Nadu, visited Mysore, Tittimatti, Ikkeri, Ponnampet, and Hudigere (22nd Feb); visited Virajpet, Bellur, Somwarpet, Gundagutti, and halted at Madakeri (23rd Feb); Proceeded to Sampaje, Sullia, Puttur, Uppinangadi, Vittala, Kannadaka, Pane Mangalore, Bantwal and halted at Mangalore (24th February); Next day visited Gurupura, Bajpe, Katilu, Kengoli, Mulki, Padabidri, Kapu, Katapadi, Udayavara, Udupi, Brahmavara (25th February) and halted at Kundapur (25th and 26th February); Left for Bhatkal, Honnavara, Kadri and halted at Karwar (27th); Next morning went to Binaga, Chandiya, Ankola, Hiregutti, Mandageri, Kumta, Ammanpalli, Hegde and halted at Sirsi (28th February); Kanasur, Siddapur, Dasanakoppa, Isur, Yakkambi, Samasagi, Akki Alur, Devi Hosur, Haveri, Byadgi, Motebennur, Murughamut and halted at Haveri (1st March); next day visited Ranebennur, Harihara, Davanagere, Duggatti, Bennihal, Harapanahalli, Kottur, Kudligi, Kanavihalli and halted at Sandur (2nd March); proceeded to Bellary, Hospet, Bhanapura, Gadag, Jakkali and halted at Hubli (3rd March); proceeded further to Dharwad, Marewada, Amminabhavi, Moraba, Harobidi, Inam Hongala, Uppina Betageri, Hirehullekere, Saundatti, Gural Hosur, Bailhongal, Sampagaon and Bagewadi (4th March) halted at Begaum ( 4th and 5th March); visited Tondekatte and returned to Belgaum (6th March); visited Yamakanamaradi, Ontamuri, Hukkeri, Gokak, and Sankeshwar, Gadi hingalga and Hattikanagale in Maharashtra Nippani, Bhoj, Havinhal, Kotahalli, Dholagarawadi, Chikkodi, Ankali and halted at Shedbal (7th March). On 8th March after visiting Mangasuli, Banahatti, Athani, Honnawad, Tikota, Toravi, Bijapur and Ilkal; via Jorapur proceeded towards Hyderabad. This tour of more than two months duration brought social awareness and the downtrodden mass ( whom he called Harijans) started gaining self-confidence and moral courage.
Gandhiji’s Later Visits to Karnataka (1936 & 1937)
Later in 1936, due to High Blood Pressure, Gandhiji again fell ill. He was advised to take rest. Hence he came to stay at Nandi Hills during May 1936. During this stay (11th May-30th May) he recovered speedily. On 31st May he left Nandi and reached Bangalore, after visiting Chikballapur, Sidlaghatta, Chintamani, Kolar, Bangarpet and KGF, the same night via Malur he reached Bangalore and stayed there upto 10-6-1936. After visiting Kengeri he left for Madras on 11-6-1936. This was his last visit to Bangalore and Princely State of Mysore. Later during 1937 April, Gandhi visited Hudali (in Belgaum District), an important Khadi Centre, to inaugurate the Khadi Exhibition. He stayed there from 16th April to 21st April. It was his last visit to Karnataka. After this, till his death in 1948, somehow he could not visit this region which was one of his favourite and affectionate region in the Country. But Gandhi’s several visits to various parts of Karnataka undoubtedly inspired the people of Karnataka.
Amidst all these, although there were no agitations in Princely State till 1937, the people of Mysore State founded Mysore Congress in that year, and launched the Flag Satyagraha in April 1938 by organising the first session of the Mysore Congress at Shivapura (Mandya District). The Vidhurashwatha (Kolar District) tragedy followed soon (25th April 1938), in which 10 were killed by police fire. This was followed by the forest satyagraha movement, also insisting for responsible government in the princely state (1939). Morethan 1200 persons were imprisoned during the movement. T. Siddalingaiah, H.C. Dasappa, S. Siddayya, K.C. Reddy, H.K. Veeranna Gowda, K.T. Bhashyam, T.Subramanyam, K. Hanumanthaiah, S. Nijalingappa, M.N. Jois and Smt. Yashodhara Dasappa were some of the important leaders of Mysore Congress. Similarly the Hyderabad Congress was launched in 1938, and it made a strong demand for responsible government. In KGF also this agitation was launched in 1939 and curfew was clamphed in mines area. Likewise in other Princely States of Karnataka also, a strong demand for responsible government was launched under the guidance of the National Congress.
“Quit India Movement” 1942-43.
The Quit India Movement saw unprecedented awakening in Karnataka. Students in all colleges and schools went on strike. Labourers in Bangalore and other places, numbering over 30,000, also struck work for over two weeks.
Over 50 people (of whom 11 from Bangalore alone) fell victims to firing by the police. Seven from Bailhongal, seven from Davangere, six from Shravanabelgola were martyrs of the Quit India Movement. Death of Mailara Mahadevappa and two of his companions in Haveri District was a serious tragedy. The Isur village in Shimoga district which demonstrated unbridled fury against the British had five of its heroes hanged. A total of 15,000 people (out of which 10,000 from Princely Mysore alone) went to jail in 1942-43 from Karnataka. Dharwad Bijapur, Belgaum, South Kanara and North Kanara areas, evidenced heroic sabotage and subversive works by organised group of patriots, which became famous as “Karnataka Pattern” praised even by Jayaprakash Narayan.
Mysore Chaloo (1947)
Even after India becoming free in 1947, Hyderabad Karnatak region could be liberated only after the Police Action in 1948. Among the men who organised Congress, Ramananda Teertha, Janardanrao Desai, G. Ramachar, Krishnacharya Joshi, A. Shivamurthy Swamy and Sharanagouda Inamdar were the noted leaders from Hyderabad Karnatak area. In Mysore State an agitation called “Mysore Chalo” was launched for the establishment of responsible government. The agitation succeeded, and a team of ministers headed by K.Chengalaraya Reddy as the Chief Minister, took charge of the administration in October 1947. Later he was succeeded by K. Hanumanthaiah (1952) and Kadidal Manjappa (1956) as Chief Ministers in the erstwhile Mysore State. To Hanumanthaiah goes the credit of raising Vidhana Saudha, the biggest building in granite of modern times. Daily newspapers like the Taruna Kamataka’ (Hubli), the ‘Samyuktha Karnataka’, (Belgaum, and later Hubli), the ‘Janavani’, the Tayinadu*, ‘Navajeevana’, ‘Veerakesari and Vishwa Karnataka’ (all from Bangalore) and ‘Kodagu’ (Weekly) from Madikeri rendered yeoman service to the movement. Women also came to the fore and participated in processions and the picketing of liquor shops and pro-British establishments braved lathi blows and went to jail with babies in arm. Mention can be made of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, Umabai Kundapur, Krishnabai Panjekar, Yashodhara Dasappa, Siddamma Bellary and Gauramma Venkataramaiah who were in the forefront of the movement.
Unification of Karnataka
After independence, a persistent effort had to be made for the Unification of Karnataka. The movement for Unification, had been, infact, launched together with the movement for freedom in Karnataka. Before independence, Karnataka had been distributed among as many as 20 different administrations like Mysore State, Madras Presidenc, Bombay Presidency, Nizam State, Kodagu, Kolhapur, Sangli, Meeraj, Chikkameeraj, Kurundawada, Chikkurundawad, Jamkhandi, Mudhol, Jath, Akkalakot, Aundh, Ramdurg, Sondur and Savanur principalities, Bangalore, Belgaum, and Bellary Contonment and the handicaps and sufferings of the people of Karnataka in those days were severe. In a Kannada area like Mudhol, ruled by a Maratha Prince, there were no Kannada schools and the administration was conducted in Marathi. This was the case with many Maratha States. In Hyderbad State, Urdu dominated. In big British Presidencies like Bombay or Madras, where Kannada districts were few and the Kannadigas were in a minority, their sufferings were many. They had no just share in the development activities. They could not secure minimum facilities like roads or bridges. Everywhere the voice of the Kannadiga was a voice in the wilderness.
The Renaissance had also created a strong yearning for Unification. Dharwad was the centre of the movement, and Alur Venkatarao was the brain behind it. He had supporters like Mudavidu Krishnarao, Kadapa Raghavendra Rao and Gadigayya Honnapurmath. The Karnataka Sahithya Parishat was founded (1915) at Bangalore partially by the efforts of these people, and it provided a forum for the writers and intellectuals of Karnataka. The writers and Journalists met annually at the Kannada Literary Conference organised by the Parishat and finally the first Karnataka State Political Conference held at Dharwad (1920) decided to agitate for Unification through the Congress organisation too. The Nagpur Congress agreed to establish the K.P.C.C. in that year. Thus Unification, initially an idea of the Kannada writers and journalists, secured the support of the politicians. The first Unification Conference was held at Belgaum in 1924 during the Belgaum Congress, with Siddappa Kambli as its president. Nine such conferences were held between 1926 and 1947 at Bellary (1926) and 1936) Dharwar (1928,1933, 1944), Belgaum (1929), Hukkeri (1931), Solhapur (1940), Mumbai (1946) and Kasargod (1947) respectively. In the meantime Hindustani Sevadal founded (1923) by Dr.N.S.Hardikar started the signature campaign for unification in 1926 and nearly 36,000 people signed for it. In 1928 the Jawaharlal Nehru Committee strongly recommendedfor the formation of a separate Karnataka Province Literary figures like D.R. Bendre, Shamba Joshi, Betgeri Krishnasharma, Sriranga, Panje Mangeshrao, Govindapai, Shivaramakaranth, Ti.Tha Sharma, D.V.Gundappa, Kapataral Krishnarao,Taranath, B. Shivamurthy Shastry, V.N.Gokak, A.N.Krishna Rao, B.M.Sri, Kuvempu, Gorur Ramaswamy Ayangar, and others gave inspiration through their writings Kannada Newspapers and Kannada organisations also worked hard for unification later. Karnataka came under five administrations in 1947,viz., (1) Bombay (2) Madras (3) Kodagu (4) Mysore and (5) Hyderabad states (instead of 20). Minor Princely States like Jamkhandi, Ramadurg, Mudhol, Sandur etc. numbering 15 have been merged with neighbouring districts soon after independence. At the time of its merger, Jamkhandi state had B.D. Jatti as its Chief Minister. From 1947, Unification was a demand that had to be urged upon the Government of India. At the same the legislatures of Mumbai and Madras States accepted the resolution for the creation of linguistic provinces in 1947.
The Karnataka Ekikarana Maha Samiti was formed in 1947 with S.Nijalingappa as its president with A.J.Doddameati and Mangalavede Srinivasa Rao as its secretaries. Later it was renamed as Karnataka Ekikarana Sangha in 1952. But, the Dhar Committee appointed by the Central Government to look into this issue, gave adverse report. This was strongly criticized at the Jayapur Congress Session in 1948. To find solution, a new committee (JVP) under Nehru, Vallabhabhai Patel and Pattabhi Seetharamaiah was constituted in 1948 and in 1949, it recommended for the creation of Andhra Pradesh only. The Kannadigas continued the agitation further, when in 1953 Andhra Pradesh was formed, Bellary district was handed over to Mysore State. People like Gorur, Kuvempu and others inspired through their speech and writings. C.M.Poonaccha, worked for the merger of Kodagu state with Mysore. Political leaders like S.Nijalingappa, Andanappa Doddameti, K.Hanumantaiah, Thinkers like Sir.M.V. and others propogated for the unification in old Mysore State. In 1953, the Akhanda Karnataka Rajya Nirmana Parishat, a newly founded party with K.R. Karanth as the President, had to launch a major Sathyagraha and more than 5,000 people courted arrest. Leaders like Jinaraja Hedge, Channappa wali, Chinmayaswamy Omkarmath were its members. Finally, the Fazl Ali Commission was appointed, in December 1953 and according to its recommendations, linguistically united Mysore State (Karnataka) came into existence on the 1st November 1956 and S.Nijalingappa became its Chief Minister. Later, during D. Devaraj Urs’s regime, the state was named ‘Karnataka’, a long cherished aspiration of the Kannadigas in 1973.
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