The dispute over the 865 Marathi-speaking villages in two Karnataka border districts, Gulbarga and Belgaum, further intensified on Wednesday as the Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan led an all-party delegation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The delegation urged the Centre on Wednesday to ask Karnataka to desist from harassing the Marathi-speaking people in the areas.
The Prime Minister told the delegation that the Constitution provided protection to linguistic minorities. Singh, however, told the leaders that he would forward the memorandum to Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
But Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa fired a volley from Bangalore, saying Belgaum was an integral part of Karnataka.
He said the Mahajan Commission report was the final word on the issue. The report recommended merger of some villages in Belgaum district in north Karnataka with Maharashtra, but rejected merger of Belgaum.
Chavan, however, sidestepped his earlier demand that the disputed areas be turned into a union territory, saying the issue was not taken up with the Prime Minister at the meeting.
"We gave a memorandum to the Prime Minister in the light of the resolution unanimously passed by the Maharashtra assembly," he said.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra assembly adopted a resolution, voicing displeasure over the Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court, saying language cannot be the only criterion for deciding state boundaries.
The Congress, however, avoided commenting on Maharashtra's demand. "We are not required to make any comment. It is a matter concerning Karnataka, Maharashtra and the Centre. We are none of the three," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.