Maharashtra-Karnataka border row: MVA MPs seek Amit Shah’s intervention to restrain ‘high-handed’ Karnataka govt.

MPs from MVA parties write to Mr. Shah warning of potential law and order situation along border districts

December 09, 2022 08:41 am | Updated 08:41 am IST - Pune

MVA MPs including the NCP’s Supriya Sule and Amol Kolhe, have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah (picture), complaining of the “illegal actions” of the Karnataka government on the inter-state border issue. File photo

MVA MPs including the NCP’s Supriya Sule and Amol Kolhe, have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah (picture), complaining of the “illegal actions” of the Karnataka government on the inter-state border issue. File photo | Photo Credit: PTI

Warning the Central government that the Karnataka-Maharashtra border row had reached a stage where it might erupt into full-blown violence, a number of MPs from the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) parties (comprising the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress) on Thursday sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s personal intervention to maintain law and order in the border districts between the two Statess

With tensions aggravated along the border after Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai’s controversial remarks about ‘claiming’ territory in Maharashtra for his State, nine MVA MPs including the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Supriya Sule and Amol Kolhe, the Thackeray-led Sena faction’s Arvind Sawant and Vinayak Raut, and the Congress’ Suresh Dhanorkar among others have written to Mr. Shah, complaining of the “illegal actions” of the Karnataka government on the Marathi-speaking populace in districts like Belgaum (Belagavi), Nipani, Karwar, Bhalaki and Bider.

In the letter, the MVA leaders claimed that “high-handed” actions taken by Karnataka – like the name change of Belgaum to Belagavi and the creation of a Vidhan Soudha (Sabha) in that district - had “hurt the sentiments” of the Marathi-speaking populace in the border districts at a time when the dispute was already pending in the Supreme Court.

“After a long fight, Maharashtra State was formed on May 1, 1960 for Marathi-speaking people and Gujarat for Gujarati-speaking people after dividing the erstwhile Bombay State. 107 people sacrificed their lives for the formation of Maharashtra. During that period Belgaum, Karwar, Nipani, Bhalaki and Bider districts consisting of 865 villages were left outside Maharashtra. Since then, these people are struggling to merge their villages with Maharashtra…while they have been following legal means to get justice and conducting their agitations peacefully, the Karnataka police assaults the Marathi-speaking populace every time while the government resorts to illegal actions and harassed them,” says the letter addressed to Mr. Shah.

Observing that there was strong resentment among people of Belgaum, Karwar, Nipani and the other border districts, the letter alleged that the pro-Kannada outfit ‘Kannada Rakshan Vedike’ had forcibly entered Jat tehsil (in Maharashtra’s Sangli district) with their flags claiming that it ought to be merged with Karnataka.

“The situation went from bad to worse when the Karnataka CM [Mr. Bommai] prohibited ministers from Maharashtra from entering his state. This is unconstitutional. He [Bommai] instigated the KRV, which then attacked vehicles bearing the ‘MH’ [Maharashtra] registration mark,” said the MVA leaders, while seeking Mr. Shah’s intervention before the situation went out of hand.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Legislative Assembly, Ajit Pawar, chastised CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis for not taking an “aggressive stance” in the manner of Mr. Bommai, while criticising the Centre’s silence on the issue despite both Maharashtra and Karnataka having BJP-ruled governments.

“The Centre must take urgent cognisance of the border row. The way things are presently is a setback to the Constitutional values envisaged by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. A wrong message is being sent out to the country by the Centre’s inactivity. It must immediately intervene in order to maintain regional harmony and law and order,” Mr. Pawar said.

On Tuesday, activists of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) had vandalised trucks from Maharashtra and staged strident protests against permitting any Minister to enter Marathi-speaking districts like Belagavi in Karnataka. This led to several Karnataka buses being painted with black ink by Maharashtra parties like the Raj Thackeray-led MNS.

Since late November, Mr. Bommai has been stirring the political cauldron after first remarking that his BJP government was “seriously considering” a resolution to include Jat taluk in western Maharashtra’s Sangli district. After an irate reaction by the Opposition MVA, Maharashtra Deputy CM and State BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said there was no question of the State ceding an inch of land to Karnataka.

Following this, Mr. Bommai upped the ante by stating that Solapur city and Akkalkot (in Solapur district) ought to part of Karnataka as well.

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