Special Correspondent

"Implement Mahajan Commission recommendations on border dispute"

NEW DELHI: An all-party delegation from Karnataka headed by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Tuesday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged the Union Government to reject the claim of Maharashtra over 815 villages in Belgaum and some other districts of Karnataka. It also urged the Union Government to ensure that the Mahajan Commission recommendations on the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra were implemented fully.

The delegation, which included Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly N. Dharam Singh, described Maharashtra's claim as "unwarranted''.

Stating that "any chance of negotiation by anybody in this matter is ruled out,'' the delegation quoted a statement made by former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi ruling out reopening of the Mahajan Commission report in 1986 and said the statement should be taken as the commitment of the Union Government.

A memorandum presented by the delegation to the Prime Minister said, "It is pertinent to quote here the views expressed by the late Rajiv Gandhi on the subject when he was Prime Minister as reported in The Hindu on May 28, 1986. The report stated that [late] Rajiv Gandhi ruled out any reopening of the Mahajan Commission report on the boundary issues between Maharashtra and Karnataka and said, `How can we go on reopening the issue?'... . If we do so, there would be no sanctity of the institutions we set up. We take this statement as the commitment of the Union Government and hold that the Union Government is bound to respect the sentiments and commitment of [late] Rajiv Gandhi.''

"We express our full faith in your leadership and request that the political pressure being exerted by Maharashtra to deprive Karnataka of a part of its territory be rejected outright,'' it said.

The delegation called for an assistance of Rs. 900 crore for providing relief to areas hit by flood mainly on account of excessive inflow from dams in Maharashtra; assistance of Rs. 500 crore for drought-affected districts; extension of the deadline for crop insurance till August end; and special support to 13 districts, where there have been incidences of suicide by farmers.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Mr. Kumaraswamy said the Prime Minister advised that Maharashtra and Karnataka should work with mutual understanding on the border issue and promised that he would look into the matter.