The political heat over the inter-state border row between Karnataka and Maharashtra escalated after Chief Minister of Maharashtra Eknath Shinde on Thursday asserted that his government will not cede “even an inch” of land of Maharashtra to anyone.
“We are doing the work of giving justice to the Marathi people in the border areas. Not even an inch of space in Maharashtra will be allowed to go anywhere. It is our government’s responsibility to solve the problems of 40 villages,” Shinde was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
His remarks follow a war of words between Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai over the border areas between the two BJP-ruled states, with the latter terming Fadnavis’ remarks as “provocative”.
“No village in Maharashtra will go to Karnataka! The state government will fight strongly in the Supreme Court to get Marathi speaking villages in Karnataka including Belgaum-Karwar-Nipani!” Fadnavis had tweeted.
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Reacting to Fadnavis’ statement, Bommai in a tweet (in Kannada) wrote, “Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has made a provocative statement on Karnataka-Maharashtra border issue and his dream will never come true. Our government is committed to protecting the country’s land, water and borders.”
“There is no question of giving up any space in the border districts of Karnataka. Our demand is that the Kannada-speaking areas of Maharashtra like Solapur and Akkalakote should join Karnataka,” he added in the tweet. “Since 2004, the Maharashtra government has filed a case in the Supreme Court over the border issue between the two states. So far they are not successful. It won’t happen anymore. We are ready to make our legal fight strong,” he added.
Bommai had said on Monday that the government has formed a formidable legal team of senior lawyers to deal with the border dispute when it comes to the Supreme Court.
What is the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra all about?
Both the states were formed in 1960. Since its inception, Maharashtra has claimed 865 villages, including Carvar, Nippani and Belgavi (earlier Belgaum), to be merged with the state. Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population.
Meanwhile, for Karnataka it has always wanted around 260 villages in Maharashtra, where Kannada is spoken, along the border to be made part of Karnataka.
However, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, which divided states along linguistic and administrative lines, made Belgaum and 10 talukas of Bombay State a part of the then Mysore State (which was renamed as Karnataka in 1973).
The then Bombay government had lodged a protest with the Centre, and a commission was formed under former chief justice Mehr Chand Mahajan in 1966. The commission which released its report in 1967, had granted 264 villages in the disputed region to Maharashtra and 247 villages to Karnataka. However, the commission ruled that Belgaum should continue in Karnataka, which it still does.
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While Maharashtra rejected the report, Karnataka demanded status quo.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government in 2006 had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking that Belgaum be part of the state.