‘Disputed areas’ on Karnataka border with Maharashtra should be declared a Union territory, says Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

Published : January 28, 2021 11:30 IST

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thakrey. Photo: S. Sudarshan

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has fired yet another salvo in support of one of the Shiv Sena’s oldest demands – that of amalgamating specific areas around the Maharashtra-Karnataka border into Maharashtra. Speaking at the launch of a book written on the boundary dispute, Thackeray not only reiterated his support of the amalgamation but expressed his determination to see it through.

The matter of the border dispute is in the Supreme Court. At the function, Thackeray wondered how the Karnataka government had renamed Belgaum (one of the disputed areas) as Belgavi, declared it a second capital, built a new legislative structure and even held one legislative session there while the case was in court. He asked whether this amounted to contempt of court. To counter a further grip of Karnataka over these areas, Thackeray suggested they should be declared a Union Territory until the dispute was resolved.

The disputed areas of Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani have predominantly Marathi-speaking people. The Sena’s demand is based on the fact that these Marathi-speaking areas should have been included as a part of Maharashtra when the States were reorganised on linguistic lines in 1956.

Earlier, on January 17, Thackeray tweeted his support from his official @CMOMaharashtra address: “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.”

January 17 is considered a martyrs’ day by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, a regional organisation that believes Belgaum and some other border areas should be merged with Maharashtra. The martyrs are those who had fought and lost their lives in 1956 when States were reorganised on linguistic lines. While Karnataka holds that the matter has been resolved long ago, the Shiv Sena holds on to the belief that Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani along the Maharashtra-Karnataka border should be a part of Maharashtra’s territory.

To this day, some leaders make a token effort to enter Karnataka on January 17 as a way of keeping the memory and the cause alive and asserting what they consider as their right. This year, too, Maharashtra Minister of State for Health Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar was stopped by the Karnataka Police when he attempted to cross over into the disputed Belgaum district.

The dispute between the two States is in the Supreme Court. The Shiv Sena has not neglected this issue that is close to its heart. Last year, Thackeray appointed two senior Ministers, Eknath Shinde and Chhagan Bhujbal, who were given the task of pushing the government’s agenda ahead.

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