The Maharashtra government has promised to fight for Marathi-speaking people from Belgaum-Karwar regions of neighbouring Karnataka who have been demanding to be included in Maharashtra.
Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, said he will take an all-party delegation to Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, after the state’s budget session.
Chavan, accompanied by his deputy, Chhagan Bhujbal, and Home Minister, R.R. Patil, met members of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti and addressed a rally at Azad Maidan on Friday.
“The 12 crore people of Maharashtra are with you and we will help you in all possible way in your struggle,” Chavan said.
Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary, Vinod Tawde, was also present. His party is in power in Karnataka.
Bhujbal, who had participated in the agitation, recalled how successive Karnataka governments inflicted injustice on the local Marathi people. “Of all the rulers, the present BJP government is most cruel towards protesters,” Bhujbal said.
Earlier in the day, both Houses of the state Legislature raised the issue.
The Marathi-speaking people of Belgaum and Karwar have been demanding that the cities be merged with Maharashtra or the region be declared a union territory of 865 towns and villages.
The struggle for including these towns in Maharashtra has been on since a unified Maharashtra was carved out 50 years ago.
The issue is in the Supreme Court.
At Friday’s meeting, the political leaders protested the Karnataka government’s decision to make Belgaum the state’s second capital. “The Maharashtra government’s plea to have Belgaum and Karwar as part of the state is pending before the Supreme Court, but Karnataka is up to tricks to demoralise local Marathis,” Chavan said. “We will bring this to the PM’s notice.”
The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti alleged that the Karnataka government was blocking the socio-economic growth of Marathi-speaking people by denying them political representation.