Amid the ongoing border row with Karnataka, the visit of the Maharashtra delegation to Belagavi in the neighbouring state scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled, and will be rescheduled, said Shumbhuraj Desai, one of the two nodal ministers for coordination regarding legal matters in the dispute. The Opposition parties, meanwhile, slammed the government for its failure to represent Maharashtra.
Desai and Chandrakant Patil, who is the other nodal minister, were scheduled to visit Belagavi to attend a programme organised by Madhyawarti Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, the Belagavi-based pro-Maharashtra organisation. They were invited by the organisation for the programme which was initially to be held on December 3 but postponed to December 6.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Desai said, “We have not cancelled the visit. We have rescheduled it. It is Mahaparinirvan Din, and on this occasion, we do not want our visit to cause any untoward incident in Belagavi.”
Desai said Maharashtra had officially informed the Karnataka government of their visit, and told it they will go to Belagavi to meet the Marathi-speaking residents of the area and hold dialogue with them to understand their expectations from the Maharashtra government. “We were going in peace. But the Karnataka Government painted our visit in a different light. What they did and said about our visit is wrong. In Independent India, no one can be stopped from visiting any area, and we were going as representatives of Maharashtra.”
Last week, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s office wrote to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s office urging Maharashtra ministers not to visit Belagavi as it could instigate residents of the area. On Monday in a statement to the media, Bommai said the police have been instructed to stay alert for any law and order situation that can arise in the state. He also said appropriate legal action would be initiated against them if they tried to enter the state.
The Opposition parties in the state slammed the Maharashtra Government for postponing the delegation’s visit to Belagavi.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar said, “This is a failure of the Maharashtra Government. And to conceal their failure, they are giving frivolous excuses. December 6 is Mahaparinirvan Diwas and it has always been so. Did they not know this when they planned their visit for December 6?” “They should now give us the next date of the visit if they are claiming to have postponed it.”
Pawar added: “Today, the CM of another state, who belongs to the same party, is giving ultimatums to Maharashtra ministers to not come and visit his state. And Maharashtra is listening to him. This is because Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday had said ‘since it is Mahaparinirvan Din, we don’t want to cause any protests. This is an important day for us all’”.
On Monday, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) chief Uddhav Thackeray had said, “Maharashtra is being insulted constantly. And for the first time, we are saying seeds of separatism are being sowed in the state. Some villages say they want to go to Karnataka, some say Telangana, some Gujarat.”
“There is a strategy to break Maharashtra. Karnataka is trying to claim a lot of cities in Maharashtra. The question now is whether Maharashtra even has a government. I had heard some of our ministers were scheduled to go to Karnataka. But the Karnataka CM indicated otherwise and the trip of Maharashtra ministers was cancelled. When will Maharashtra show it has a Chief Minister?” he asked.