Days after the Karnataka Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on the border row with Maharashtra, resolving to protect the state’s interests, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde today condemned the “anti-Marathi” stand, and moved a similar resolution in the state Assembly. This, too, was passed unanimously. The conflict between the two states, both ruled by the BJP, is expected to escalate further, despite union Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention, as Karnataka goes to polls next year.
The Maharashtra resolution stated there are 865 Marathi-speaking villages, and “every inch of these villages will be brought into Maharashtra”. Whatever will be required for the same in Supreme Court, the Maharashtra government will do so, it added.
The resolution asserts that 865 villages, including “every inch of Belgaum, Karwar, Bidar, Nipani, Bhalki” will be part of Maharashtra.
Reacting to Maharashtra’s resolution, former Karnataka Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah called it “nothing but provocation by the state”.
Karnataka had on Thursday condemned the border dispute “created” by Maharashtra.
“There is no compromise on the matters relating to Karnataka’s land, water, language and Kannadiga’s interest. The feelings of Karnataka’s people and members (of assembly) is one of this subject, and if it is affected, we are all committed to unitedly take constitutional and legal measures to protect the interest of the state. Condemning border disputes created by Maharashtra people unnecessarily, this house unanimously passes a resolution that it is committed to protect the interest of the state,” the resolution moved by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Bommai last week read.
The Karnataka Chief Minister had earlier said both states agreed to maintain peace at the meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah.
Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction leader Sanjay Raut had on December 21 stoked controversy with a China parallel. “We will enter Karnataka like China has entered the country”, he said.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena, which was ousted from power in June, has been attacking the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government, accusing it of not taking a stronger stand against Karnataka.
The border dispute goes back to 1956 when the then Maharashtra government demanded a redrawing of its border with Karnataka. Maharashtra claims 865 villages given to Karnataka, including Belagavi (former Belgaum), Karwar and Nippani, and wants these to be merged into the state. Karnataka rejects the claim.
Belagavi, which has a large Marathi-speaking population and was originally a part of the Bombay presidency that made way to Maharashtra, is the epicentre of the row that has also reached the Supreme Court. Karnataka also claims the south Solapur and Akkalkote regions of Maharashtra, which have a sizeable Kannada-speaking population.
Tension grew in the bordering areas recently, with political leaders on both sides attacking each other. Buses from both states were attacked and defaced with paint in Karnataka’s Belagavi and Maharashtra’s Pune by stone-throwing political cadres, prompting Union Home Minister Amit Shah to call a meeting with the Chief Ministers of both states.