Strongly condemning the Maharashtra government's decision to implement its health insurance scheme in the 865 border villages in Karnataka that it is laying claim to, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday called it an "unpardonable offence", and said he would raise the issue with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
In December last year, Union Home Minister had stepped in to defuse border tensions between Maharashtra and Karnataka. He called a meeting between the two Chief Ministers, after which he said both of them had agreed not to make any claims and counter-claims on the border issue till the Supreme Court had decided on the matter.
Speaking to reporters, Bommai today said Maharashtra had "violated" that agreement, and urged his counterpart Eknath Shinde to "behave responsibly". The latest tension between the two states cropped up after the Shinde government recently announced that it would allocate an additional Rs 54 crore for its 'Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana', so that the benefits could be extended to the border villages in Karnataka that Maharashtra has been laying claim to.
The Karnataka Chief Minister today urged the Maharashtra government to immediately withdraw its order on implementing the health insurance scheme in the villages on Karnataka's side of the border, and said he would be raising the matter with Union Home Minister Shah.
Warning against dredging up border issues, indicating that it could backfire against Maharashtra, Bommai said, "We too can announce such schemes or programmes."
"Several Gram Panchayats and Taluks (on Maharashtra's side of the border) have made resolutions seeking to join Karnataka, as they are not getting justice in Maharashtra," he added. "With such a situation, the Mahrashtra government should behave responsibly. I strongly condemn their Cabinet decision."
Opposition leaders D K Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah on Wednesday had also condemned the Maharashtra government's move, and took the opportunity to call for Bommai's resignation for "having miserably failed to protect the interests of Karnataka and Kannadigas."