Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Monday hit out strongly at Maharashtra over the ongoing border dispute and said the neighbouring state will not get "a single inch of land."
Maharashtra has, on linguistic grounds, laid claim on Belagavi (Belgaum), a part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency that is currently one of Karnataka’s largest districts.
"As per the Mahajan report, it has been decided what belongs to Karnataka and what’s Maharashtra's. To reap political benefits, the Maharashtra chief minister is raking up the issue. Not a single inch of land will be given away," Yediyurappa said. "They’re deliberately inciting people of both the states. But just because someone issued a statement, I appeal to people on our side...we will not give even a single inch to anyone."
The escalation of tensions in the border areas has resulted in the suspension of state transport bus services from Karnataka to Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently named ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Eknath Shinde as co-ordinators to oversee his government's efforts to expedite the case related to the boundary dispute with Karnataka, which is pending before the Supreme Court since many years.
Thackeray recently raised the border dispute in the Maharashtra Assembly, referring to some areas of the state as "Karnataka-occupied Maharashtra." Also, the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), which has been fighting for the merger of 800-odd border villages with Maharashtra, recently submitted a memorandum of their demands to Thackeray.
"Belagavi is part and parcel of Karnataka," former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, currently Industries minister, asserted. "We have built the Suvarna Soudha there and people have accepted it. The Shiv Sena, after Uddhav Thackeray become the chief minister, is raising the issue again. Kannadigas and Marathis are living together in peace," he said, adding that Karnataka will fight the border dispute legally.
Shettar dared the Karnataka Congress to spell out its stand on the border dispute. "Uddhav Thackeray became the CM with the Congress’ support. But what’s the stand of the state Congress? Let them withdraw their support (to Shiv Sena) otherwise," Shettar said.
Health Minister B Sreeramulu, too, attacked the Maharashtra government. "In Kolhapur, some Shiv Sena workers have burnt the Kannada flag. Uddhav Thackeray, after becoming the chief minister, has started his mischief. But the government wants to ensure peace. When it comes to the interests of Kannada and Karnataka, there’ll be no compromise," he said.