MES to meet President Patil for reinstatement of Belgaum Corp

MES to meet President Patil for reinstatement of Belgaum Corp

"We are appealing to President Pratibha Patil to reinstate the Belgaum municipal corporation, which was dissolved by the Karnataka government," MES president T K Patil told reporters.

Karnataka government recently superseded Belgaum Corporation being ruled by the MES for not performing its functions in accordance with the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976, and for certain actions that "offended the sentiments" of the people.

Observing that Maharashtra leaders have failed to unitedly fight on the issue, Patil said the MES delegation was planning to meet President who is arriving here on a three-day visit.

"The Marathi-speaking people from Belgaum are tired of fighting a lone battle against the atrocities committed by Karnataka government which has systematically destroyed Marathi language and Marathi culture in the areas dominated by them," Patil said.

"The elected representatives from Maharashtra cutting across party lines have to
pressurise the President to reinstate the civic body and ask the Centre to declare Belgaum as a union territory till the Supreme Court decides on the issue," he said.

Maharashtra Government had moved the Supreme court for settlement of the issue, he said, adding it has been nine years and the issue still drags on.

Maharashtra and Karnataka have been at the loggerheads over inclusion of Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka with the state. Belgaum, which has a sizable Marathi-speaking population, has been a bone of contention between the two states.

"In these nine years, Karnataka has constructed a legislative assembly building in Belgaum and started having a legislature session in the city as well," Patil added.

In the backdrop of the delegation's meeting with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray last night, the MES chief appealed to the political parties to call for a Maharashtra bandh on January 17, which is observed as "martyrs day" in Belgaum.

Patil said Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum had carried on their fight for the last 56 years democratically and in a peaceful manner.

"But, the Karnataka government had attacked the democratic institutions by dissolving the Belgaum municipality last week as well as in 2005 out of hatred for Marathi language and people,"he alleged.

The MES president rejected the charge that inefficiency of the civic body was one of the reasons for the Karnataka government's decision.

"Non-administration was during the time of four Kannada-speaking mayors. Why was no action taken then,"he asked.

The MES delegation met MNS chief Raj Thackeray earlier in the day.
Patil said Raj spoke about handling the issue with a deft political strategy.

"We told him that this had to be decided by Maharashtra politicians. We have been fighting a lonely battle,"he said.

Patil also informed that MES is seeking legal opinion on challenging the Karnataka government's decision to supersede the civic body in the court.

Referring to a united resolution condemning action of Karnataka government passed by Maharashtra legislators, Patil said,"what is required is concrete action".

"We are pinning our hopes on Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who is close to the Prime Minister as well as Congress president," he said, adding that the MES will also meet Anna Hazare and urge him to take up their cause.

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