The Karnataka government’s decision to disqualify Marathi-speaking candidates from the mayoral elections in Belgaum evoked angry reactions in Maharashtra on Wednesday.
Protests from legislators of all parties forced Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, to say he will write to his counterpart in Karnataka. “We will express our stance and unhappiness over the issue to Karnataka’s chief minister. Other parties should do the same,’’ Chavan said.
Assembly Speaker, Dilip Walse Patil, adjourned the House to express solidarity with the Marathi-speaking populace of Belgaum.
Six Marathi-speaking candidates were disqualified and a Kannada-speaking mayor elected unopposed in the mayoral elections in Belgaum on Tuesday.
The Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, led by Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) legislator Ganpatrao Deshmukh, moved an adjournment motion demanding that the Belgaum issue be discussed.
Opposition legislators said the incident had clamped down the freedom of Marathi-speaking population in the neighbouring state.
Chavan said Tuesday’s events were “unfair” and were an attempt to avoid representation of Maharashtrians in public bodies. He, however, hinted that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had not taken up the issue vociferously enough because Karnataka has a BJP government. BJP legislator, Sudhir Mungantiwar, insisted his party supported the cause. “Let’s take an all-party delegation to Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and seek his intervention,’’ he said.
Nationalist Congress Party legislator, Jitendra Awhad, said, “For six decades, the Marathi-speaking population in the Belgaum-Nippani-Karwar belt has been fighting for the language. The least we can do is to initiate a discussion to show we support their cause.’’
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena said the incident was injustice to Maharashtrians in Karnataka. “We hope there are no bitter reactions anywhere,” said spokesman Shirish Parkar.
The issue also caused uproar in the Council, which had to be adjourned for 15 minutes. Deputy Chief Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, said since Maharashtra respects and protects the Kannada language and people from Karnataka, Maharashtra expects the same.