No question of giving up any space in border districts of K’taka: CM

Published on Nov 25, 2022 12:34 AM IST

Terming his statement “provocative”, Bommai said that Fadnavis’ dream will never come true. There is no question of giving up any space in the border districts of Karnataka, the CM said.

Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai (HT Photo)
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai (HT Photo)
By, Bengaluru

Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said that the state will not give up any land on the border between Karnataka and Maharashtra. Bommai was responding to Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s remarks that his government “will fight to get villages in Karnataka added to Maharastra”.

“No village in Maharashtra will go to Karnataka! The state government will fight strongly in the Supreme Court to get Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka, including Belgaum-Karwar-Nipani!,” said Fadnavis.

Terming his statement “provocative”, Bommai said that Fadnavis’ dream will never come true. There is no question of giving up any space in the border districts of Karnataka, the CM said.

“Our government is committed to protecting our state’s land, water and borders. Our demand is that the Kannada-speaking areas of Maharashtra like Solapur and Akkalkot should join Karnataka,” he added.

The one-upmanship between the two states comes at a time when the Supreme Court is expected to hear the border dispute shortly. In September, the apex court listed the matter to be heard from 23 November but the hearing was delayed.

The conflict began in the 1940s when Belagavi municipality in present-day Karnataka, home to a significant Marathi-speaking population, requested that they be included in Maharashtra. Notably, Belagavi, Vijayapura, Dharwad and parts of Uttara Kannada, were part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency. However, the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, incorporated Belgaum and 10 talukas of the Bombay State into the Mysore State which was renamed ‘Karnataka’ in 1973.

The dispute led to the formation of the Mahajan Commission in 1966 under retired chief justice of India Mehr Chand Mahajan. The commission published a report in 1967 wherein it recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra while Belagavi, Nippani and 247 villages remain in Karnataka. Karnataka welcomed the report, but Maharashtra rejected it.

The Maharashtra government, through its suit in 2004, had claimed Belagavi city and 865 villages in four districts – Belagavi, Bidar, Karwar and Gulbarga. The case is based on recommendations of a committee headed by retired SC chief justice YV Chandrachud.

Karnataka categorically denied the claims made by Maharashtra and even set up an Assembly building in Belagavi, where the winter session of the state legislator is held.

Earlier this week, CM Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra appointed two ministers to coordinate with the legal team regarding the court case on the dispute set to come up in the Supreme Court. Bommai said soon after that the state has deployed a battery of top lawyers, including Mukul Rohatgi and Shyam Diwan, to fight its case.

Bommai said since 2004, the Maharashtra government has filed a case in the apex court over the border issue. “So far they have not succeeded and they will not succeed in future as well. We are geared up to strengthen our legal battle.” The Karnataka CM had claimed that the panchayats in Jath taluk in Sangli district of Maharashtra had passed a resolution in the past to merge with Karnataka when there was a severe drought situation and acute drinking water crisis, and his government had evolved schemes to help them by providing water.

Responding to this, Fadnavis told the reporters in Nagpur on Wednesday: “These villages (in Jath taluk) had introduced a resolution on the issue of water scarcity in 2012. Presently, none of the villages have introduced any resolution.”

Meanwhile, Bommai reiterated: “The border dispute is a political tool used by all parties in Maharashtra. But they will never succeed.”

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah also demanded the constitution of an advisory committee, including him, to take stock of the boundary dispute being pursued by the Maharashtra government in the Supreme Court. In a press statement, he also urged the government to nominate a senior minister as the in-charge for the boundary dispute.During the previous Congress government, MLA HK Patil was appointed as the in-charge for the boundary row.

“ The (Bommai) government has not done its homework properly to argue the case in the Supreme Court. He has not even consulted the Opposition leaders on the matter, knowing well that the matter would come before the Supreme Court,” he said

The CM however said that a strong team of senior advocates, including Mukul Rohtagi, Shyam Diwan, and Karnataka’s Uday Holla, had been formed and the government was “seriously” laying a claim on Jath taluk.

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