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‘Don’t create unnecessary controversies’: Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai to Maharashtra CM on border row

Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai remarks on special grants for development of Kannada schools in Maharashtra and schemes to help people in Jat taluka in Maharashtra’s Sangli district have sparked a controversy.

The remarks by the two chief ministers have reignited a long-standing dispute between the two states over the rights to several villages along their shared border. (File)

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday that Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde should not “create unnecessary controversies” and “intensify the row among the two states” after the latter’s statement promising pension to freedom fighters of Belagavi and other parts of Karnataka.

The remarks by the two chief ministers have reignited a long-standing dispute between the two states over the rights to several villages along their shared border.

Talking to reporters near his house in Bengaluru, Bommai said that the Border Development Authority has decided to release special grants for the development of Kannada schools in Maharashtra. Besides, he added, details will be collected of those who fought during the unification movement, freedom struggle and Goa Vimochan agitation, and were settled in Maharashtra, to give them a monthly pension.

Jat taluka in Maharashtra’s Sangli district was facing a severe drinking water crisis due to drought and the government of Karnataka has evolved schemes to help people by providing water, Bommai added. All Gram Panchayats in Jat taluka have adopted a unanimous resolution saying the taluk should be included in Karnataka. “The state government is seriously considering it,” Bommai said.

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“There is harmony between the two states and we treat all language-speaking people equally. It is our duty to protect the interests of the Kannadigas who are settled in large numbers in Maharashtra,” Bommai added.

While Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah demanded an all-party meeting to discuss the state’s strategy, Bommai said that a strong team of advocates has been formed to resolve border issues.

“Letters will be sent to leaders of Opposition in both Houses regarding the steps taken by the government in this regard. We are fully prepared to argue our case in the Supreme Court,” he said, earlier this week.

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Bommai’s statement follows a meeting held by Maharashtra CM Shinde to draw up a detailed plan to resolve the border dispute. On Wednesday, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “We will contest our stand within the legal framework in the Supreme Court. Our government is committed to acquiring the Marathi-speaking villages along the Karnataka-Maharashtra border.”

Bommai said the border row has become a political tool in Maharashtra and any party which is in power will raise this issue for political purposes, “but they have not been successful yet”. “We are capable of protecting the borders of Karnataka and have taken steps also. We have worked together when it comes to the land, language and water of Karnataka and have fought jointly. No one has the right to change the States Reorganisation Act,” he added.

Bommai also referred to a pending case in the Supreme Court on the border dispute and said the application filed by the Maharashtra government has not been considered. “Discussion is going on regarding its maintainability. The apex court has not considered the main case and it may not be maintainable,” he said.

First published on: 23-11-2022 at 04:21:29 pm
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