Days after Karnataka minister R Roshan Baig sparked a row with his statement against chanting of the “Jai Maharashtra” slogan in the southern state, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil on Tuesday wrote to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, threatening legal action. Baig, Karnataka’s urban development minister, had allegedly said in Belgaum on Sunday that if elected members raised “Jai Maharashtra” slogan in Karnataka, their membership would be cancelled. Calling Baig’s statement unconstitutional, Patil warned of legal action in his letter.
Baig had also allegedly said that Karnataka government was intending to bring in a new legislation to check “anti-Karnataka activities” by elected representatives. The matter was raised in the Maharashtra Legislative Council on Monday by Shiv Sena legislator Dr Neelam Gorhe following which the state government assured to take it up with Karnataka CM.
The Leader of the Upper House Chandrakant Patil said that he had discussed the matter with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Patil said, “The government has taken suggestion from legal experts who have advised to send a detailed letter to the Karnataka government. We have already done that. We are awaiting their response to the same.”
Patil’s letter, dated May 23, states: “It has been learnt that Mr Roshan Baig has said if elected representatives in Karnataka are found raising slogans of ‘Jai Maharashtra’, in such event the person’s membership as a legislator will be disqualified. I as a nodal minister of state of Maharashtra in respect of Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute would like to invite your kind attention to the unconstitutional act of a cabinet minister in government of Maharashtra. Making such a statement may provoke people at large and affect the peace and harmony in the border areas of the two states. The statement is also threatening the freedom of speech that is ensured by the Constitution.”
The letter further stated: “I am sure that the Karnataka government will look into the matter and will not allow any such enactment. If any such unlawful acts by a responsible minister are initiated, the government of Maharashtra will initiate legal action to protect the constitutional rights of the affected citizens.”
Meanwhile, political parties and organisations in Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur and other parts of state protested against Baig’s statement. Activists of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in Thane painted ‘Jai Maharashtra’ on buses plying to Karnataka. Swabhiman Sanghtana workers defaced the board of Karnataka Sangha Hall and wrote ‘Jai Maharashtra’ on it. Shiv Sena activists in Pune’s Swargate, too, painted the slogan on buses plying to Karnataka. Sainiks in Kolhapur painted slogans — ‘Jai Maharashtra, Jai Shivaji, Jai Bhawani’ — on at least seven buses plying from Kolhapur to Belgaum.