Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray has slammed the Centre over the Maharashtra-Karnataka border issue, saying that if the UnionGovernment did not believe in the linguistic basis of formation of States, then it should disintegrate all the States.

Mr. Thackeray said this in response to an affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court on Tuesday which said that language was not the only criterion for the allocation of areas to a particular State. This was in response to an affidavit filed by the Maharashtra government claiming its right on the disputed 814 villages on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border where the majority speaks Marathi. The Centre has said that the region belongs to Karnataka.

A 50-year struggle

“Maharashtrians have fought for the past fifty years for Belgaum and Gulbarga region. The majority population there is Marathi speaking. This is sheer disregard and disrespect of the sacrifice of Marathi manoos,” he said in a statement.

He accused the Congress of being historically unjust to Maharashtra. He said that the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty was known to have hated the State. “Their position has always been venomous. How can we expect justice from them in any matter?”

All the other political parties in the State too have expressed strong displeasure against the Centre's position. Even State Home Minister R. R. Patil has termed this “injustice against the people of Maharashtra.” “I have not yet seen the affidavit, but I can say that people are very angry about it. It is time Maharashtra got justice,” he said while talking to the media.

‘No support from Govt.'

Lakshman Dhoble, Maharashtra's Water Supply Minister, said the State government had long stopped supporting the people's struggle there. He claimed that the Karnataka government has been encouraging huge encroachments in the region.

Mr. Dhoble said the plight of the Marathi speaking population was worse because they were being betrayed by their own people.