Karnataka, Maharashtra Spar Again Over Decades-Old Belagavi Border Issue

Matters had been dormant for quite a while until a tweet sent out by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's office on Sunday.

Karnataka, Maharashtra Spar Again Over Decades-Old Belagavi Border Issue

Karnataka reacted strongly to the Maharashtra Chief Minister's statements.(File)

Bengaluru:

The decades-old Karnataka-Maharashtra border issue has been fanned yet again as the two states spar amid remarks by the chief minsters and other political leaders. There are many Marathi speakers in the border district of Belagavi in north Karnataka. Despite the boundary being clearly drawn by the Mahajan Commission set up specifically for this issue, there have been sporadic protests led by different groups over which state the area should be part of.

The Karnataka government - to further assert that Belagavi is an intrinsic part of the state - also built a massive official building in the district headquarters, on the lines of the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru. Legislative sessions have been held there over the years.

Matters had been dormant for quite a while until a tweet sent out by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's office on Sunday. "Bringing Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking and cultural areas in Maharashtra will be the true tribute to those who accepted martyrdom in the boundary battle We are united and committed towards it. Respects to the martyrs with this promise," the tweet read.

Karnataka reacted strongly to the Maharashtra Chief Minister's statements. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa tweeted. "Maharashtra Chief Minister Shri Uddhav Thackeray's statement raking up border issue in the name of Marathi language & culture is unwarranted and goes against the federal structure of the nation. Mahajan Commission report on this matter is final."

"Marathi people are living in harmony with Kannadigas in Karnataka. Likewise, Kannadigas living in the border districts of Maharashtra are living in harmony with the Marathi people there. I condemn Shri Thakeray's comments which can disrupt the peace & harmony among people," he said in another post.

"I am pained at Maharashtra Chief Minister's remarks that can disturb the prevailing harmonious atmosphere. I expect Shri Uddhav Thackeray, as a true Indian, to show his commitment and respect to the principles of federalism in letter and spirit' : Chief Minister @BSYBJP."

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress made his position very clear in a series of tweets. "I strongly condemn the statement made by @CMOMaharashtra Uddhav Thackeray about our Belagavi. Belagavi is an integral part of Karnataka. Don't try to instigate us by bringing up the issue which is already resolved."

"Mahajan report is final with respect to Belagavi border issue. Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, don't try to politicize the issue which is already decided."

"You are not just a Shiv Sena activist. Don't forget that you are also a responsible Chief Minister."

"We will never compromise or politicize on matters related to land-water-language of Karnataka. Protecting our State is our responsibility. @CMofKarnataka should officially give a befitting response to the stupid comments made by Uddhav Thackeray." he said.

But the BJP in the state had a response of their own. The state unit tweeted : "Maharashtra Vinashak Aghadi CM @OfficeofUT has "mischievously" raked up the Belagavi issue again."

"Will @siddaramaiah & @DKShivakumar explain to their alliance partner that the border issue is a dead subject. We demand them to protest against such needless interference from Him. (sic)"

Speaking to NDTV, Karnataka's Deputy Chief Minister Dr Ashwath Narayan said, "Unnecessarily now the issue has been raked up by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. There was no need to make that kind of statement. He has made it. People have responded. There ends the matter. Belagavi's Marathi-speaking areas - they are part and parcel of Karnataka. What areas belong to Karnataka will stay with Karnataka. There is no way we can concede even one inch of land to some other state. It belongs to Karnataka. We will take care of them. They are our people."

Politics between the states - and politics within the state of Karnataka. This is the latest flare-up of an old dispute.