Marathas Played Significant Role In Nation-Building: Karnataka CM Basavara Bommai

The Chief Minister said Karnataka is home to people who speak different languages and live harmoniously in the State like a native Kannadiga

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai

Amid the border row with neighbouring Maharashtra, Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday underlined the role of Marathas in nation-building and emphasised on respecting the diverse cultural and religious sentiments that unite the country.

The Chief Minister said Karnataka is home to people who speak different languages and live harmoniously in the State like a native Kannadiga. “This (Maratha) community has been in Karnataka for hundreds of years. The community has embraced Karnataka’s land, water, culture and language,” Bommai said after laying the foundation stone of Maratha Bhavan in his home constituency of Shiggaon in Haveri district.

“Like any other citizen here, they are also the proud Kannadigas who are second to none. There are very old cultural ties with Marathas, which have grown over a period of time, which we should respect,” Bommai said. He pointed out that the Kannadigas are present all over the country, including in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. They mingled with the local people and became an integral part.

The Chief Minister noted that in Karnataka, there are people who speak Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Odiya, Assamese, Hindi, and Rajasthani. Yet, they live like any other Kannadiga in absolute harmony. “These cultural and religious aspects unite India. It is important to protect it for its unity and integrity,” Bommai said.

He said the country is a democratic nation wherein hundreds of languages, various castes and communities are present.

This federal and democratic India with so many categories is successful because of the Constitution, gifted by Baba Saheb Ambedkar to the people, Bommai said. By giving equal rights to everyone, freedom to explore opportunities and by encouraging brotherhood among people, this Constitution has been able to unite this country, he added.

Expressing gratitude to Dr. Ambedkar, Bommai said he (Ambedkar) had set aside the humiliation and atrocities he had faced life and gave the Constitution by keeping the nation and its people's sentiments in mind. “A country is not just road or building. A country is about people, their culture and character. Keeping this in mind, Baba Saheb Ambedkar built this Constitution,” the Chief Minister said.

Bommai recalled also the contribution of the Maratha ruler of the 17th century Shivaji Maharaj in establishing a Hindu dynasty. “Shivaji Maharaj’s role in protecting society and religion was immense. He belonged to the entire country and everyone feels proud of him,” he told the gathering.

Bommai said the Karnataka government has released a grant of Rs 100 crore for the Maratha Development Corporation and chalked out its programmes which include funds for scholarship to students who want to study abroad, loans to become self-employed and irrigation schemes for farmers from the community.

The Chief Minister's remarks came at a time when Maharashtra and Karnataka have locked horns over a border dispute involving Belagavi. Just ahead of the Karnataka's legislature session in Belagavi, Maharashtra raked up its demand of merger of Belagavi with it on the ground that the district has a substantial Marathi population. But, Karnataka rejected the demand saying the border issue has been settled long back.

Amid a war of words between the leaders of Karnataka and Maharashtra on the issue, the Karnataka Assembly passed a resolution on December 22. “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) are one on this subject, and if that gets affected, we all would commit ourselves to unitedly take Constitutional and legal measures to protect the interests of the State.

Condemning the border created by Maharashtra unnecessarily, this House unanimously passed a resolution that it is committed to protect the interest of the State, the resolution read.