Demanding Union Territory status for Belagavi and other disputed border areas between Karnataka and Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) said on Wednesday that it will join the proposed delegation led by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to Belagavi to extend support to the Marathi-speaking people living there.
“I have spoken to NCP chief Sharad Pawar about his plan to lead a delegation to Belagavi. The NCP chief has said that if things do not improve, he will be leading a delegation to Belagavi. The Shiv Sena will be part of the delegation,” Sena (UBT) chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut told The Indian Express.
On Tuesday, Pawar, speaking to reporters in Mumbai, had given a 24-hour ultimatum to the Karnataka government to stop the attack on vehicles from Maharashtra entering Karnataka or be “prepared to face consequences”. Pawar’s ultimatum came as at least five Maharashtra-registered lorries were attacked near Hirebagewadi, about 24 km from Belagavi, allegedly by members of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike.
Raut said the Maharashtra government should put pressure on the Centre to grant Union Territory status to Belagavi and other disputed areas. “The border dispute has been raging for more than 50 years. Till the Supreme Court gives its verdict, the disputed areas should be placed under Centre’s rule,” he said.
Reacting to Raut’s remarks, Minister of State for Home Affairs Shambhuraj Desai said he should stop making provocative statements. “We will make efforts to resolve the dispute through dialogue with the Karnataka government,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
The decision to rake up the border row, Raut alleged, is a ploy by the Centre ahead of the Karnataka elections. “Why has Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai suddenly become active on the border row? Why is he laying claims to villages in Kolhapur, Sangli and Solapur areas…He is doing all this at the behest of the Centre. The Centre is behind this attempt to stoke public sentiment in Karnataka ahead of the state elections. Currently, they do not have any election issue in hand and therefore are resorting to provoking sentiments against Maharashtra and galvanising masses in their favour,” Raut said.
At his customary press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday, Raut asked Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to show his “bhaigiri”, loosely translated as bravado. “Eknath Shinde is known as ‘bhai’. If he has the courage, then he should show his ‘bhaigiri’ against Karnataka. But his government lacks guts, it is a ‘namard’ government,” Raut said.
Demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Raut said, “The Eknath Shinde government has no right to remain in power even for a minute. Both chief minister and deputy chief minister have failed the people of Maharashtra, especially, at a time when Karnataka chief minister is blatantly laying claim to territories in Maharashtra.”