Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said his government would take measures to stop the Maharashtra government from offering its health insurance scheme in 865 border villages that the neighbouring state is trying to lay claim to.
He was responding to Congress' criticism over his administration's alleged inaction over Maharashtra's Eknath Shinde government recently announcing an additional Rs 54 crore for implementing the 'Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana' in the border villages of Karnataka, which the neighbouring state is claiming for itself.
Calling the Maharashtra's government's move an "insult" to Karnataka, state Congress President D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah earlier today demanded Bommai's resignation, accusing him of having "miserably failed" in protecting the interests of the state and Kannadigas.
In response to a question from reporters about Congress' demand for his resignation, Bommai said, "If Maharashtra releases (money) here, why should I resign? We too have released funds for places in Maharashtra like Pandharpur, Tuljapur, where people from Karnataka visit."
Speaking to the reporters here, he said, "I will look into their fund release, we will take measures to stop it.... I need not learn from D K Shivakumar." Earlier, warning the Maharashtra government, Shivakumar said not even an inch of Karnataka's land would be ceded.
"It is our land, our water, and we will protect it. We are ready to sacrifice our lives to protect our land," he said, as he urged the Karnataka government to take immediate counter measures, stating that it was a mater of the state's self esteem.
Calling on pro-Kannada organisations, artists and literary figures to come together to express their opposition against Maharashtra's move with one voice, Shivakumar also questioned Union Home Minister Amit Shah's silence on the issue. Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Hubballi, Siddaramaiah said Maharashtra's move was a threat to India's federal structure.
Hitting out at Bommai for having failed to protect Karnataka's interest, he said he had no right to continue as Chief Minister and should resign immediately. The decades old border row between the two states had intensified in December last year, with vehicles from either side being targeted, leaders from both the States weighing in, and pro-Kannada and Marathi activists being detained by police amid a tense atmosphere in Belagavi.
Also, both states had passed resolutions against each other in their respective legislatures, putting forward their claim on the border villages. The border issue dates back to 1957 when States were reorganised on linguistic lines. Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, as it has a sizeable Marathi-speaking population. It also laid claim to over 800 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently a part of Karnataka.
Karnataka maintains that the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the States Reorganisation Act and the 1967 Mahajan Commission Report is final. And, in an assertion about Belagavi being an integral part of the State, Karnataka built the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha there, modelled on the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the State Legislature and Secretariat, in Bengaluru.