Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday said that he will start a hunger strike if the Karnataka government renames the Ramanagara district as Bengaluru South, PTI reported.

This comes a day after Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar said that the Ramanagara district, comprising Channapatna, Ramanagara, Kanakapura, Magadi and Harohalli taluks, may be renamed as Bengaluru Dakshina.

“What shape this plan has to be given, I will speak about it in the days to come,” Shivakumar said in a social media post. He also said the entire Ramanagara district is within Bengaluru’s limits and that the residents of its four taluks were “Bengalureans”.

Kumaraswamy, who was the chief minister of the Janata Dal (Secular)-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government when the Ramanagara district was created in August 2007, responded to Shivakumar by saying that he sees the renaming proposal as a challenge.

“I have an emotional relationship with Ramanagara,” Kumaraswamy said. “I do not have any business relationship with the district. If Ramanagara district’s name is changed, I am ready to risk my life and sit on fast until death, despite my ill health.”

He also accepted Shivakumar’s challenge for a debate on the Ramanagara district and the collapse of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in 2019.

On Wednesday, Kumaraswamy wrote in social media post that the proposal to rename Ramanagara is an attempt to rob the identity of a newly-created district.

“Not even in seven lives can Ramanagara be broken,” he said. “DK Shivakumar should understand this. Ramanagara district has been formed after scientifically considering and checking the advantages and disadvantages of the people. Now if we divide the district and add Kanakapura to Bengaluru, the entire district’s population will hit back. Is Ramanagara a boulder to be broken into pieces?”

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that Shivakumar has not discussed the matter with him. “I do not know what’s on his mind,” Siddaramaiah said.

Shivakumar represents the Kanakapura Assembly constituency in the Ramanagara district.