BJP, Congress in war of words over Belagavi unrest
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national general secretary and Chikmagalur legislator CT Ravi on Monday blamed Congress for the ongoing unrest in Belagavi after statues of historical personalities were defaced and stones pelted at government vehicles in the district.
Ravi said that state Congress president DK Shivakumar was the “director and producer” of the whole incident. “The Congress is behind this (arson and defacing of statues). This is a conspiracy the Congress have hatched across the country to ignite protests and get undue electoral benefits,” he said.
He added that Congress workers were also part of the act of burning the Karnataka flag in Kolhapur, and some of these people were supporters of Shivakumar and Chamarajpet MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan.
Shivakumar refused to blame MES for the violence.
“I can’t just blame that some organisation or MES did it. It has to be proven. Some miscreants have done this to spark tensions in society. The government should enforce the law and peace must be restored,” Shivakumar said.
The statements come even as tension soars in the border district, which is the bone of contention between Maharashtra and Karnataka, despite the Centre-appointed Mahajan commission stating that Belagavi is part of the southern state.
Maharashtra continues to contest the commission’s report and claims Belagavi, Khanapur, Karwar, Bidar and some other border areas as its own. These regions were part of the erstwhile Bombay presidency and later came to Karnataka in the reorganisation exercise in 1956.
Since then, there have been several clashes between the pro-Kannada and pro-Marathi groups on both sides of the border. The most recent incident was the throwing of ink on the face of Deepak Dalvi, president of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) on December 13 while carrying out a rally. This triggered protests in Kolhapur where some miscreants burnt the Karnataka flag while a few others went on a rampage in Belagavi.
Pro-Kannada groups defaced the statue of Chatrapati Shivaji in Bengaluru, which was reciprocated with the defacing of Sangolli Rayanna’s and 12th-century reformer Basavanna’s statues in other places.
“State government would take decisive steps to stop vandalism. Stringent action would be initiated against those who take the law into their hands,” chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Monday. He added that the main perpetrators of vandalism have been arrested. “State Home Secretary and DG of Police have taken up the issue with their Maharashtra counterparts to protect the life and property of Kannadigas in Maharashtra, and also providing security for Karnataka government vehicles,” Bommai said.
Bommai said that the Karnataka government will push for induction of all Kannadiga-dominated areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka, going on the offensive against the claims made by its northern neighbour.
He has also said that the government would install the statue of 19th-century ruler Rani Chenamma and her general Rayanna’s statue in the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi.
The Karnataka government had commissioned the construction of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi in 2007. It was constructed for ₹400 crores and inaugurated in 2012 to further quell any claim on the border district by the neighbouring state.
The Vidhana Soudha holds the winter session of the Karnataka assembly and was built to address issues concerning the Kittur-Karnataka (earlier known as Mumbai-Karnataka) and Kalyana-Karnataka (earlier known as Kalyana Karnataka) .