The Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre is faced with the challenging situation of trying to rein in the two warring states, Karnataka and Maharashtra, where it is in power. However, it seems like the central government has taken a stand of no interference on this issue especially when one of them, Karnataka, is heading towards assembly elections in a few months.
The border tussle between the states often rears up ahead of assembly elections or just before Karnataka holds its winter assembly session in the “disputed” district of Belagavi. This time around, the Centre finds itself in an embarrassing position as Karnataka’s BJP government led by Basavaraj Bommai and Maharashtra’s Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena-BJP ruling alliance train guns on each other over the six-decade-old dispute of merging around 800 villages based on linguistic lines. The matter is pending in the Supreme Court based on Maharashtra’s petition filed in 2004 staking claim over the border district.
The BJP’s central leadership and PM Modi have been closely monitoring the border issue, a senior Karnataka BJP leader told News18. Seeking anonymity, the leader said the Centre had sent out strict messages to both CMs to maintain peace and await the decision of the Supreme Court.
“It should not be viewed as a BJP versus BJP issue. The demand made by Maharashtra holds no water as it was already settled by the Justice Mahajan Commission, which upheld Karnataka’s claims. Maharashtra is making a mountain out of the issue just as it does before every assembly session in Belagavi,” the leader said.
Two Maharashtra ministers, Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai, were to visit Belagavi on December 6 and hold a meeting with the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) but it was cancelled at the last minute. They were delegated by Shinde to monitor the Maharashtra-Karnataka border row and track the court case. Bommai had warned that he would not hesitate to resort to taking legal action against the ministers if they step foot in Belagavi.
In anticipation of disruption of law and order in Belagavi, Bommai instructed Karnataka chief secretary Vandita Sharma to write to her Maharashtra counterpart, asking the ministerial delegation not to come in the existing environment as it could further ignite the already tense situation.
Tension has been building for the past week as the SC was scheduled to hear Maharashtra’s plea on the matter on October 30. The case is yet to be listed.
While Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis toed his party’s line of awaiting the decision to be taken by the court.
Karnataka alleged that Maharashtra has been seen trying to stoke the sensitive issue repeatedly. Bommai also clarified that Karnataka had no role in raking up this issue for the sake of elections. “We are committed to protecting the state’s borders and our people, and also the interests of Kannadigas living in Maharashtra, Telangana, and Kerala,” he said.
With inputs from News18