It was an unusual scene in the Legislative Assembly that normally sees high-pitched battles between the ruling parties and the opposition. The Assembly unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Centre to amend its stand on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute, just a day after the two sides united on the James Laine book issue.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan took exception to the affidavit filed in Supreme Court by the Union Home Ministry headed by a Congress minister, P Chidambaram.
“The affidavit said language is not the sole criteria and the State Reorganisation Act had a balanced approach. That’s not right. Language is not the sole criteria, but it is the main criteria, and the state will maintain that,” he said. “If the Act had got everything right, why was the Mahajan Commission appointed?” he asked. The Commission was set up in 1966 to resolve the border row, but the state rejected its findings.
Discussion on the dispute dominated both houses on Tuesday. “The voice of Marathi-speaking people in the border areas is being suppressed. Their schools are being shut, political processes suppressed, villages names changed. That cannot be allowed to happen,” the CM said.
Deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP) said, “I am ashamed to go to the border areas now, because we have not been able to resolve this issue. Repeatedly, Karnataka has resorted to undemocratic means to stifle the movement there, and people have for decades expressed their demand for merger with Maharashtra.”
Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse Patil, who moved the resolution, said the state’s delegation to the PM must point out human rights violations in Karnataka.
Opposition leader Eknath Khadse (BJP) said, “Though the neighbouring state is ruled by our party, I condemn the lathi-charge and atrocities on Marathi-speaking people there.
Uddhav too for Central rule
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray too demanded that the disputed area be made a Union Territory till the issue was settled.
Asked what he would call the new Union Territory, Thackeray said, “You can call it anything. Even Karnataka-occupied Maharashtra, like Pak-occupied Kashmir.” When pointed out that it was BJP, its long-time friend, which was in power in Karnataka, Thackeray said Marathi-speaking people in border areas were facing injustice whenever governments of the Congress, Janata Dal and BJP were in power.
NCP’s Davkhare re-elected as deputy chairman
NCP leader Vasant Davkhare was elected unopposed as the deputy chairman of the Legislative Council for the third time in a row. The Opposition had decided to field Shiv Sena’s Kiran Pawaskar against Davkhare but withdrew his nomination just before the elections.
“Historically, the position of the deputy chairman has been conferred to the Opposition. This has happened everywhere except Maharashtra. Even though we don’t question Davkhare’s fairness we put up a candidate to register our protest,” Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote said.
Davkhare has been a member of the Council since 1992 and has been the deputy chairman of the house since 1998. HTC