Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa’s announcement that his government is mulling over giving second capital status to Belgaum has evoked sharp reactions from political parties in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra has been demanding that Marathi speaking areas of Karnataka, including Belgaum, be merged with the State.

Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP have flayed the statement of Mr. Yeddyurappa.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said Mr. Yeddyurappa was speaking out of turn. “The Maharashtra government’s plea to have Belgaum and Karwar as part of the State is pending before the Supreme Court,” he said.

NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said, “The statement is uncalled for and we will seek legal recourse on the issue.”

Sena leader Diwakar Raote said his party would oppose any attempt by the Karnataka government to impose its mandate on lakhs of Marathi-speaking people there (Belgaum).

The boundary dispute between the two States is over half-a-century old. After reorganisation of States, there has been a demand to include Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka in Maharashtra.

Karnataka recently held a special five-day session of the Assembly in Belgaum.

Later, nominations of all Marathi-speaking candidates in the Belgaum mayoral poll were rejected and the lone Kannada-speaking nominee was declared elected unopposed.

This prompted protests against Mr. Yeddyurappa during his Mumbai visit earlier this month and he was welcomed with black flags in Mumbai by the Shiv Sainiks.

Keywords: Border dispute

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