With Maharashtra and Karnataka governments witnessing a new fallout over the age-old border issue, the ruling BJP party for both states is coming under a tricky situation.
A fresh war of words broke out between Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after Bommai claimed that villages in Maharashtra’s Sangli district passed a resolution wanting to merge with Karnataka after facing an acute water crisis.
However, responding to the CM’s statement, Fadnavis said that any village has passed no such resolution and no village along the border is “going anywhere”.
Taking to Twitter, Fadnavis shared a clip of speaking to reporters: “No village in Maharashtra will go to Karnataka! The state government will fight strongly in the Supreme Court to get Marathi speaking villages including Belgaum-Karwar-Nipani! (sic)”
What is the age-old dispute?
The decade-old border dispute between Karnataka and Maharastra dates back to 1960 since the reorganisation of the states on the linguistic lines. The dispute is often referred to as the Belagavi or Belgaon border dispute, where Maharashtra wants to claim back Belgaum (also called Belagavi) district and 80 other Marathi-speaking villages which are in the control of the southern state.
Following a memorandum from the Maharashtra government on 23 June 1957, the Government of India constituted the Mahajan Committee on 5 June 1960 to decide on the reorganisation of Belagavi.
Despite the formation of the committee, no agreement could be reached and the case now lies before the Supreme Court.
What is the present political situation?
Following Fadnavis’s interview with the media, Bommai termed the Maharashtra BJP leader's remark "provocative" and said "his dream will never come true".
"Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has made a provocative statement on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border issue and his dream will never come true. Our government is committed to protecting the state's land, water and borders," Bommai said.
"Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has made a provocative statement on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border issue and his He added that Karnataka's demand is that areas such as Maharashtra's Solapur, which have a high number of Kannada speakers, should be made part of Karnataka.
However, conceding on the resolution, Fadnavis said that although a few villages had passed the resolution in 2012, following the water crisis, no developments have been made since then.
Further, Fadnavis claimed that the previous BJP government under him had entered into an agreement with the Karnataka government to develop a water supply scheme for these villages. However, he added that due to Covid, the plan could not have been approved and would be done soon.
While Karnataka claims Kannada-speaking areas close to the state border, Maharashtra has been pushing for a resolution to the dispute over Belgaum district -- also called Belagavi -- and other Marathi-majority areas in Karnataka.
Development of the situation
The matter reached the Supreme Court in 2004 when the then Maharashtra government claimed Belagavi city and 865 villages.
On Monday, the Karnataka CM Bommai said that the state has formed a formidable legal team of senior lawyers to deal with the border dispute when it comes up in the apex court.
Following this, on Tuesday, the Maharashtra government appointed Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai as nodal ministers to coordinate with the state’s legal team on the pending matter before the Court.
Meanwhile, a 19-member committee in Maharashtra came together to request the apex court to speed up the hearing in the matter.