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Eye on Dalits, Karnataka govt seeks Centre's nod to rename Central University

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The Times Of India
15th October, 2019 08:13 IST

BENGALURU: After renaming backward Hyderabad-Karnataka region Kalyana Karnataka, chief minister BS Yediyurappa is reportedly seeking permission from the Union government to rename Central University of Karnataka in Kalaburagi after BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution.

If the Centre accepts his proposal, the government may also rename Gulbarga University after Basavanna or Basaveshwara, the 12th century social reformer and founder of the Lingayat faith.

The move is being viewed as the government’s attempt to reach out to formidable but warring castes — Lingayats and Dalits — and build a strong base for the BJP in Kalyana Karnataka region, a political fortress of the Congress.

Within two months of Yediyurappa ascending the CM’s post for the fourth time in July this year, plans were drawn up by his office to rename Hyderabad-Karnataka as well as Gulbarga University. The new names — Gulbarga University was to renamed Basaveshwara University — were to be unveiled on September 17 to coincide with celebrations of the 73rd Liberation Day of six districts — Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Ballari.

However, Yediyurappa did not take the plan to rename Gulbarga University forward as he feared the move would rile the majority Scheduled Caste population in the region as they have been demanding renaming of Central University of Karnataka after Ambedkar.

“Kalaburagi is the karma bhoomi of Basavanna, the 12th century social reformer,” said a senior BJP leader and a confidant of Yediyurappa. “We wanted to rename the university and give the people in the region some cheer with a memorial for the Lingayat demigod.”

The demand by Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, the majority population in Kalaburagi, to rename the same university as Ambedkar University is an old one.

In 2017, the Congress government led by Siddaramaiah had written to the Centre to rename the Central University of Kalaburagi after Ambedkar. However, there was no reply from the human resources ministry. Later, the government named a newly established economic school in Bengaluru after the Dalit leader.

“We had sent a demand to the central government long ago to rename Central University, but there was no reply,” said Chittapur MLA and former minister in the Siddaramaiah government, Priyank Kharge.

The BJP is looking to take it forward with the same agenda now. “The government will pursue the proposal to rename Gulbarga University only after renaming Central University. We are pursuing the matter closely,” said a CMO official.

Deputy chief minister, who holds the higher education portfolio, CN Ashwath Narayan said: “Since the previous government has already sought permission of the MHRD in this regard, we will pursue it with the Centre to rename both universities.”

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