There is little hope of a breakthrough in the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute given the rigid positions of politicians in the two states. An amicable end to the long festering row is hard to find though the BJP is in power in both states. In any case, not much ought to be made of the fact that the same party rules the two states. The origins of the dispute go back to the time the Congress was in power all over the country and at the Centre. Its top leadership was so strong that were it to sort out this mess nobody could have challenged it. Unfortunately, there was a tendency to not engage with boundary conundrums thrown up by the division of existing states and drawing of new boundaries on linguistic lines.
Certain regions were bilingual and defied the genius of the functionaries entrusted with the task of creating new states on the basis of language. For example, the stalemate over the status of Chandigarh, now a Union territory, has led to periodic unrest between Haryana and Punjab. Mercifully, that dispute is relegated to the back-burner now. The Assam-Meghalaya border row, long dormant, has come to haunt the current rulers in Guwahati and Shillong, as evident from the recent violence at the disputed border. Let us face it. Even the higher judiciary has no magic wand to resolve boundary disputes thrown up by the haphazard redrawing of maps within the Indian Union on linguistic grounds in the mid-1950s.
The Supreme Court has been seized of the Maharashtra-Karnataka dispute for long, but because it does not entail a mere matter of interpretation of the document of division between the two states, but calls for linguistic and demographic sensibilities to be taken into account, nobody wants to burn their fingers trying to douse divisive fires lit by vested interests every now and then. Therefore, to expect that Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the two states will produce a mutually acceptable formula is unrealistic. He can of course counsel the two Chief Ministers to tone down the rhetoric, eschew inflaming passions, and not play into the hands of the MVA which is desperate to trip the Eknath Shinde Government ahead of the crucial Mumbai municipal elections. Indeed, it is regrettable that the ruling party politicians in the two States competed with one another to fan divisive emotions when they ought to have known better. What political gain they sought to derive from raking up the old dispute is unclear. The MVA, too, should steer clear of the controversy given that the Congress party faces a tough election in Karnataka and cannot be seen to be soft-pedalling the state’s claim on the disputed territory.
Messi all the way
The World Cup in its last stages is living up to its reputation. Tuesday night’s first semi-final between Argentina and Croatia showcased the genius of Lionel Messi. The dazzling display by Messi, playing his last World Cup, confirmed his status as the greatest living footballer. He desperately craves the World Cup, the one piece of silverware missing from his big haul of trophies amassed over a career that has lasted almost two decades. The Croatians, of course, were no pushovers, having seen off fancied teams like Brazil on their way to the last four. The last World Cup’s runners-up, however, were unequal to the mesmerism of the Argentinian captain who opened the account with a bullet-like penalty which hit the top of the net, leaving the Croatian goalkeeper flailing. Later, Messi assisted young teammate Julian Alvarez to score two more to make the final score 3-0.
Argentina will now meet the winner of the second semi-final on Thursday morning between France and Morocco. Irrespective of whether the African nation’s dream run lasts, it has won the hearts of Arabic and African countries by playing robust football and not being intimidated by top European rivals. Indeed, Morocco’s success thus far is a fitting tribute to the world’s biggest sporting spectacle held in the desert. The billions spent by Qatar were well worth it.
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