Senior Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Umesh Katti stirred a row on Friday with his demand for statehood to North Karnataka, PTI reported. Katti alleged that the region was not developed and also cited inadequate relief to victims of the August floods.

“My struggle will continue till my death against the injustice to this region,” Katti told reporters at Sankeshwar in Belagavi district.

Katti also alleged that there was inadequate water supply to parts of the state from Maharashtra and Goa. “Neither is [Chief Minister BS] Yediyurappa’s action appropriate, nor is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s action good or even Maharashtra CM’s action is good,” Katti said. If the states do not come to a resolution that would benefit everyone, then “separate statehood to North Karnataka is inevitable”, Katti said.

More than 80 people had died after heavy rains affected 21 of Karnataka’s 30 districts in August. Lakhs of hectares of agricultural lands and homes were damaged. The state lost more than Rs 38,000 crore worth of losses due to damaged crops and submerged assets, both private and public. The Centre had on October 5 approved Rs 1,200 crore for Karnataka. But the sanction came after state units of the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being indifferent towards Karnataka when it was facing floods in August.

“If they don’t agree to our demands, we will include Kolhapur, Sangli, Karad and one more from Maharashtra and 13 from Karnataka,” Katti added. “All these districts put together will be in
the North Karnataka state.”

He added that he was a chief ministerial candidate and was not looking for smaller posts like that of a deputy. “Either chief minister [of Karnataka] or the chief minister of North Karnataka, which is not far away,” he said. “Before my end I will be the Chief Minister of North Karnataka.” The eight-time MLA from Belagavi district’s Hukkeri is not a part of Yediyurappa’s Cabinet. “If it is destined then I could become minister or chief minister one day but the lack of development in this region is what compelling me to protest and demand separate statehood. This is my resolve,” he added.

Katti’s criticism came just weeks after Vijayapura MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not providing adequate funds to rebuild affected parts of Karnataka.

State BJP General Secretary N Ravi Kumar said that he was unaware of Katti’s speech. “However, the Chief Minister will speak to him and ask him what he has said,” Kumar added.