As the decades-old inter-State border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka continues to simmer, Ministers Shambhuraj Desai and Chandrakant Patil will meet pro-Maharashtra activists in Karnataka’s Belagavi on December 3 to discuss the ongoing issue.
Mr. Desai on Monday said he and Mr. Patil, both coordinating Ministers for the border row between the two States, would have a day-long meeting with Madhyavarti Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti activists. “If required, we will stay for another day and continue the discussions,” he said.
“We are fully geared up for the legal battle, which we believe will be in our favour,” he said.
Further, Mr. Patil said they would also look into the problems faced by residents of 865 Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka over which the Maharashtra government had staked its claim. “We will provide more facilities to Marathi people living in those villages and address their issues by taking constructive decisions, and at the same time expedite the legal battle in Delhi,” the leader of Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Patil, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tweeted that there was a demand from the Madhyavarti Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti to hold discussions on the border issue. “Accordingly, coordinating Minister Shamburaj Desai and I will visit Belgaum on December 3 and hold discussions. Let’s meet up. Discussions surely will lead to a way.”
The decades-old issue flared up when Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai recently stated that villages of Jath taluka in the Sangli district of Maharashtra had passed a resolution in the past to merge with the southern State, which evoked a strong response from several politicians, including Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
“No villages in Maharashtra would go to Karnataka. In fact, our government will fight in the apex court to get Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka,” Mr. Fadnavis said.
Shiv Sena chief spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut alleged that Mr. Bommai’s sudden ‘territorial claims’ on Maharashtra’s Sangli and Solapur districts were part of “a big conspiracy” to divert the public ire against the BJP for the objectionable remarks made against Chhatrapati Shivaji by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and BJP MP Sudhanshu Trivedi.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Mr. Bommai said he would be visiting New Delhi to meet BJP national president J.P. Nadda, and would have discussions with a senior advocate in the Supreme Court regarding the legal battle with Maharashtra over the border dispute.