Uddhav Thackeray rakes up Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute to mark January 17 ‘martyrs’ day’ anniversary

Published : January 18, 2021 16:50 IST

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (file photo) Photo: PTI

At a time when the Shiv Sena is pushing its old agenda of renaming Aurangabad, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has again raked up the issue of merging Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka with Maharashtra. On January 17, Thackeray tweeted using his official @CMOMaharashtra Twitter handle,

“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 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 that are paid homage to 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 believes that predominantly Marathi-speaking areas like 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, 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 pending in the Supreme Court. But 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, to push ahead with the State government’s agenda.

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