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Disputed areas on Maharashtra-Karnataka border should be declared UT until final SC order: Uddhav Thackeray

The chief minister says the Centre should be impartial and play the role of a guardian when the two states have a dispute in the court

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
January 28, 2021 1:28:23 am
Thackeray also held a high-level committee meeting on the border dispute issue after releasing a book. (File)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said the disputed areas of the Maharashtra-Karnataka border should be declared a Union territory until the Supreme Court gives its final order on the issue.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, meanwhile, was more circumspect on the issue, stating that the Supreme Court was the last option before Maharashtra and the state government needed to put all its might in putting up a strong legal argument before the apex court. He added that if the change in status quo did not occur now then he had doubts on whether a solution could be found in the future.

“When the issue is pending in the Supreme Court, the Karnataka government renamed Belgaum and also declared it as its second capital. It also constructed a legislature building there and held a legislature session. Isn’t this contempt of court? Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking areas should be declared a Union territory until the Supreme Court gives its final verdict on the issue,” said Thackeray.

The chief minister was speaking 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 state government’s officer on special duty on the border dispute issue. Pawar, Congress minister Balasaheb Thorat and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Pravin Darekar among others were present on the occasion.

Since the formation of the state, Maharashtra claims areas such as Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani – parts of Karnataka – to be its own, stating that the majority of the population is Marathi-speaking in these areas. However, the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka has been pending with the Supreme Court since 2004.

Thackeray further said the state would plead in the Supreme Court about its stand of making the disputed border areas a Union territory to prevent the Karnataka government from taking any decision on the disputed areas. “If the long-pending issue is not resolved during this government’s tenure, it will never be,” Thackeray said, adding that all political parties should stand united for the Marathi-speaking people in the disputed border areas.

Echoing Thackeray, Pawar said all political parties need to unite. “If things don’t happen now, then I have my doubts if there would be any change in the future as well,” said Pawar. “The Supreme Court is our last weapon (on the issue). So, we have to prepare well and present our side effectively.”

Thackeray also held a high-level committee meeting on the border dispute issue after releasing the book. “All the parties should have to play a united and aggressive stand with the Centre to bring the Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking areas into Maharashtra. As the Supreme Court is hearing the case, the Karnataka government has started destroying Marathi from the border disputed areas. It has to be stopped. Until the final verdict, the immediate follow up should be taken to maintain the status quo (on the disputed areas),” he added.

The chief minister added that the Centre is expected to be impartial and play the role of a guardian when the two states have a dispute in the court.

Ten days ago, Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, while offering tributes to those who died in 1956 in the border struggle to join Maharashtra as part of the reorganisation of states on linguistic grounds, had stated the government’s commitment of incorporating the Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka into Maharashtra. It triggered a controversy with various party leaders from Karnataka attacking Thackeray and the government.

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