300k Panchamsalis to lay siege to Vidhana Soudha demanding 2A reservation

At least 300,000 members from the Panchamsali community from Karnataka’s Belagavi district will hold a march over the reservation issue on Thursday to Suvarna Vidhana Soudha (legislature building) situated on the Pune-Bengaluru national highway, 14km from the district, people in the know of the matter said on Wednesday.

The traffic might be affected for about 8 hours during the day for which police have appealed to the public to postpone travel if unnecessary.

The Panchamsali Meesalati Horata Samiti, headed by Kudalasangama-based mutt seer Basava Jayamrutunjaya Swami, which has held several rallies and conventions to get the caste group included into the 2A reservation category, said that the Thursday’s rally “will be the last of the first-phase struggle”.

The Panchamasali community wants to be included in category 2A (15%) of OBC reservation matrix. They are currently included under 3B (5%).

The community is expecting to get a nod from the government for the reservation by Thursday afternoon. “We hope our rally…our convention turns into celebration… else all of us will barge into the Soudha,” Jayamrutunjaya Swami said.

“The saffron party should be ready to witness a major change in the upcoming assembly elections if the reservation is not given,” he said.

The community which held its first-phase’s last convention at Savadatti town in Belagavi last Monday has camped at Bailhongal town, about 35km from the Soudha. It will continue the padayatra to Soudha from Thursday morning and is expected to reach around 3.30pm.

The community will hold the convention at Raghavendra layout, about 2 km from Soudha. “About 25,000 will take part in the walk to the Soudha and about 2 lakh people are expected to join the march till it reaches its destination,” Swami said.

“At least 25 lakh people from our community have assured to attend the convention before Suvarna Soudha. We are expecting the attendance between 2 lakh to 3 lakh people,” said Swami.

While referring to Vijayapur BJP MLA Basangouda Patil Yatnal, the Swami said chief minister Basavaraj Bommai will announce the reservation status after accepting the commission’s report.“The Panchamsali leaders in politics have informed me that the government is expected to announce about according the reservation status by Thursday afternoon after it accepts the report of the permanent backward commission on reservation,” he said.

Swami said on Wednesday that the convention “will turn into felicitation (event) of chief minister if reservation is announced or else there will be a massive protest”. “All those who gather at the venue will barge into Suvarna Soudha if the reservation is not announced by Wednesday afternoon… the saffron party will neither recover nor have existence,” the pontiff said.

Congress MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar representing Belagavi rural constituency who is also actively involved with the matter has expressed confidence of getting the reservation.

Panchamsali leaders from both BJP and Congress said that “the BJP won’t drop this opportunity as elections are around the corner” and “the community’s votes in northern and eastern parts can affect the next government”.

In view of the rally, 6,000 additional police personnel have been be deployed, ADGP (Law and Order), Alok Kumar said.

Speaking to the media, he said, “There will be traffic issues on the Pune-Bengaluru national highway where traffic could be halted for about 6-8 hours”. Will direct the traffic to other roads, he added.

The department will appeal the Swami to cooperate with the police in handling the situation, he said.