Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilsarao Deshmukh has put the ball in the Centre’s court following the UPA Government’s suggestion that the Maharashtra and Karnataka should solve the Belgaum border dispute amicably.
“I feel that the Centre should play an important role in bringing both parties together for discussion,” Deshmukh said reacting the Union’s affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Friday.
The Apex Court had asked the Centre to submit its stand on the four-decade old spat between the warring states.
On the other hand, the Chairman of the Border Dispute Co-coordination Committee DN Patil said the core groups would be formed to fight the legal battle in the Supreme Court.
“We will try our best to challenge Karnataka’s arguments as we believe the criteria of relative majority must be taken into consideration as far as Belgaum’s inclusion in Maharashtra is concerned,” he told reporters on Saturday.
Karnataka and Maharashtra are fighting a long battle – in the courts and on the streets over the Marathi speaking people-dominated Belgaum since late 50s. The issue has triggered violence several times claiming over 70 lives so far.
Recently, the Karnataka Government held a special Assembly Session in Belgaum and also assured the town a status of second capital.
State Nationalist Congress Party president Arun Gujarathi said he would react after November 20. “I don’t know the affidavit’s content as I’m busy campaigning for council polls,” he told HT.
But Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut came down heavily on the Congress and Deshmukh. “He (Deshmukh) should have used his frequent visits to New Delhi to convince the senior leadership because the discussions won’t sort out this dispute. He has failed miserably despite having ten ministers from Maharashtra at the Centre.”
Raut said the Sena’s stand was clear. “We want the Bharatiya Janata Party to quit the Karnataka Government. We’ll fight it out to give justice to 20 lakh Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum and around.”
He said the Centre should administer the disputed area till the Supreme Court comes out verdict.
Although no senior BJP leader was available for comment on Saturday, the party general secretary Vinod Tawde hasd told HT recently that quitting the government wouldn’t help.
“We too are for the benefit of Marathi people and would pass on our sentiments to the BJP’s top leadership.”