While addressing the state Legislative Council on Monday, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackarey called on the central government to declare the "Karnataka occupied Maharashtra" areas as a Union Territory. His comment come amid a raging border row between the neighbouring states over the Belagavi region.
Karnataka government spoiling the atmosphere
Speaking in the Upper House, Thackarey asserted that the boundary dispute is not just a case of language and border, but of "humanity" and questioned the central government's role as the "guardian" of both the states. "Has the central government acted as guardian. We expect the central government to act as the guardian," he said.
The Shiv Sena leader contended that Marathi speaking people have resided in the border villages since generations and their way of life is Marathi. To this end, he demanded that until the matter is pending before the Supreme Court, the centre should declare Belagavi as a Union Territory.
He also took a jibe at the Karnataka government for attempting to alter the status quo and fan tensions around the issue. "The matter is sub-judice and there is a status quo on it, but who is spoiling the atmosphere?" Uddhav asked, in a reference to Karnataka government's recent resolution that stated that the border row had been "created" by Maharashtra.
He also said (members of) both the Houses should watch the movie "Case for Justice" and read the Mahajan Commission report (on the border issue).
Tensions at a high over Belagavi dispute
The unanimous resolution adopted by the Karnataka legislative assembly on December 22 was moved by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. It vowed to protect the interests of the state, with Bommai later condemning Maharashtra's political leaders' "conduct" on the border issue and threatening legal action.
Tensions have escalated in last few weeks between the two states, more so after the Karnataka government convened a symbolic session at its second assembly house in Belgavi last week. The Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi hosts an annual assembly session to assert the southern state's claims over the largely Marathi-speaking region, which is also claimed by Maharashtra.
Belagavi, though a part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, was incorporated as part of Karnataka as per the States Reorganisation Act of 1956. Maharashtra has been long claiming Belagavi and surrounding border areas in north Karnataka as they have a sizable Marathi-speaking population.
Thackarey's statements came shortly after Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said in the legislative assembly that the state government will do whatever it can to ensure the Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka get justice, and pledged to fight even for an inch of land.