Sharp differences emerged on Friday within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the dispute on Belgaum as its MPs from Maharashtra and Karnataka argued with each other along regional lines.
Shiva Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire raised the issue during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha and alleged that Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka were being given step-motherly treatment.
He said: “Injustice is being meted out to Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka territory bordering Maharashtra.”
Khaire demanded that the disputed areas, including Belgaum and 865 villages, be merged with Maharashtra on linguistic basis.
The Shiv Sena MP received vocal support from his party colleagues who joined him in gathering near Speaker Meira Kumar's podium. BJP MPs from Maharashtra also rose to support Khaire.
Even the party's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde backed Khaire and said, “I am with them” alleging linguistic minorities in Karnataka were being discriminated against.
Some BJP MPs from Karnataka, however, objected to the stand and said Khaire was “misleading” the house by speaking about untrue reports of injustice to Marathi- speaking people.
The matter was put to rest when BJP leader Ananth Kumar said there was no reason to protest as Belgaum “is part and parcel of Karnataka”.
“There is no question (of boundary dispute). We are with the ruling of the Supreme Court and the central government's decision,” he said.
Belgaum, a Karnataka district, was in erstwhile Bombay Presidency and is claimed by Maharashtra on linguistic grounds.