The Karnataka government has decided to hold the winter session of the state legislature in the border district of Belagavi, the schedule for which will be finalised during the next cabinet meeting, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister J C Madhuswamy said on Monday. Sessions have not been held in Belagavi in the last two years, due to floods and Covid-19 pandemic. They were instead held in state capital Bengaluru.
“We have discussed it (winter session), the date will be fixed in the next cabinet. It has been decided to hold the session in Belagavi this time,” Madhuswamy told reporters after the cabinet meeting here today. If held, as planned, this will be the first legislature session in Belagavi, after the BJP came to power in 2019.
Karnataka Legislative Council Chairman Basavaraj Horatti had last week written to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai asking him to hold the winter session in Belagavi, during November end or December first week, to facilitate 25 MLCs retiring in January, to attend the session and raise their issues. Bommai too had last month said that the government is mulling hosting the winter session in Belagavi in December, and it will be placed before the cabinet for approval.
Belagavi in north Karnataka, bordering Maharashtra, has been hosting legislature sessions once a year since 2006. Karnataka has constructed the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, modelled on the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state secretariat and legislature in Bengaluru, for this purpose, and it is also seen as an assertion that Belagavi is an integral part of Karnataka.
Maharashtra claims that Belagavi belongs to it. The government is also working on shifting some government offices to Belagavi.
Other than the session held once a year for about two weeks, the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha building remains mostly unused. It has been a long standing demand of the people of north Karnataka to shift some government offices to Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, aimed at addressing regional imbalance, and for the benefit of citizens of the regions, who otherwise have to travel to Bengaluru.
In 2018, then Congress-JDS coalition government in the state had given in principle approval to shift some government departments, boards and commissions to the north Karnataka region to address the alleged discrimination. Last year, the then Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had directed authorities to identify state level government offices to be shifted to Suvarna Vidhana Soudha within a month and execute it.