Updated: January 29, 2021 8:10:21 am
Karnataka BJP ministers Thursday hit back at Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray over his statement that his government could approach the Supreme Court to have the Belagavi area of Karnataka declared as a Union Territory.
On Wednesday, Thackeray had said all disputed areas on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border should be declared UTs till the apex court gives its final verdict on their jurisdiction.
Mocking the Shiv Sena chief’s statement, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi said Mumbai should be made a part of the state and, until that happens, he urged the Centre to declare it as a UT.
“We condemn the Maharashtra CM’s statement. The Mahajan report is final. We are confident that the Supreme Court will rule in our favour as well. The demand of the people in our region (Mumbai-Karnataka) is that since we have been part of it, we, too, should have our right on Mumbai,” Savadi said.
“Until Mumbai is made part of Karnataka, I urge the central government to declare it as a Union Territory. Now that we are asking for Mumbai, things will get even,” the deputy CM said in response to a question on the border issue being raked up by the Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party coalition ruling Maharashtra.
After releasing a book, ‘Maharashtra Karnataka Simawad: Sangharsh Ani Sankalp’ (Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Dispute: Struggle and Resolve), compiled and edited by Dr Deepak Pawar, the Maharashtra government’s officer on special duty on the border dispute issue, Thackeray said, “While the issue is still pending arbitration in the Supreme Court, the Karnataka government went ahead and renamed Belgaum and also declared it as its second capital. It also constructed a legislature building there and held a session. Isn’t this contempt of court? All Marathi-speaking areas occupied by Karnataka should be declared union territories until the Supreme Court gives its final verdict on their jurisdiction.”
Reacting to the statement, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Karnataka’s water resource development minister who is additionally the minister-in-charge of Belagavi district, said Thackeray had raked up the border issue to divert public attention from the ‘failures’ of his government.
“Don’t give much importance to what he says. Uddhav Thackeray has failed at all levels. He is trying to rake up the emotive border issue in a bid to try and divert public attention,” he said.
The state Women and Child Development Minister Shashikala Jolle, who also hails from the Belagavi district, condemned Thackeray’s statement saying he has no right to speak about Belagavi.
She said Belagavi is the land where Kittur Rani Chennamma had led an armed rebellion against the British for freedom, adding, “We are not sitting with our hands tied. We are the people of Karnataka, the soil of Kannada has nurtured us. If the border issue is taken up repeatedly, we will give a befitting reply.”
State Rural Development Minister KS Eshwarappa also joined his cabinet colleagues in condemning Thackeray’s statement. He said, “Thackeray’s popularity is dipping, which is why he is making such statements. Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, we all are brothers. We condemn what the Maharashtra CM has said.”
On January 17, Thackeray had said that his government is committed to delivering to his state areas of Karnataka where Marathi-speaking people are in a majority. The statement sparked an uproar in Karnataka, with leaders, across parties, hitting out at the Maharashtra CM and his government.
Maharashtra claims that the majority of population in certain areas of Karnataka, including Belagavi, Karwar and Nippani, speaks Marathi. The border dispute has been pending arbitration in the Supreme Court since 2004.
In a bid to assert its claim on Belagavi, Karnataka has built the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, modelled on the Vidhana Soudha, the state Assembly in Bengaluru, where a legislature session is held once a year by the state government.
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