Over the line

First Edit

The Congress-led UPA government at the Centre has the responsibility to advise the Congress-NCP coalition government in Maharashtra to immediately stop playing politics with the so-called border issue with neighbouring Karnataka. The rabble rousing by the Maharashtra politicians over the Centre’s matter-of-fact affidavit in the supreme court, rejecting Maharashtra’s claim over certain Marathi-speaking regions of Karnataka, has the potential of inflaming passions over an issue which was irrevocably settled over five decades ago. If the prime minister does not intervene and tell the Maharashtra leaders firmly that they should desist from playing with the sentiments of people and await the court’s judgment, the country will be plunged into another needless conflagration at a time when other divisive issues are already taxing the nation’s peace, unity and integrity.
Karnataka, or the then Mysore state, was as much aggrieved as many other states with the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, when its claim over Sholapur in Maharashtra or Kasargod in Kerala — which were predominantly Kannada-speaking regions — were not accepted, though it got Belgaum as per its wish. The Mahajan Commission, which was set up subsequently at the instance of Maharashtra, also upheld the inclusion of Belgaum and 814 villages in the border areas of Mysore state. The Maharashtra politicians have tried to stoke the fire off and on, but never succeeded in convincing anyone of the bona fides of their demand. Most importantly, the Kannadigas and Marathis of Belgaum and other villages have been living in harmony for decades despite political attempts to drive a wedge in their relations. The chauvinistic feelings have all but died down as evident from the fact that the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi, which tried to fish in troubled waters, has almost been rejected by the local people.

The recent competitive politics in Maharashtra forced the government there to file an affidavit in the supreme court in 2004 to make a fresh bid for ‘Marathi-speaking areas’ included in Karnataka. It does not have much of a case and the court should have dismissed the petition at the admission stage. Having stalled the Centre from presenting the facts before the court earlier, the Maharashtra government is now not able to accept the ‘truth’ that has been spelt out in the home ministry’s affidavit. The Centre must make it clear to the Ashok Chavan government that it should stop flogging a dead horse and concentrate on providing good governance.

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