The ruling BJP party in both Maharashtra and Karnataka is in a difficult situation as a result of a new fallout of the 65-year-old border issue.
A new spat erupted between Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after Bommai claimed that villages in Maharashtra's Sangli district passed a resolution wanting to merge with Karnataka due to a severe water shortage.
In response to the CM's statement, Fadnavis stated that no village along the border has passed such a resolution and that no village along the border is "going anywhere."
Fadnavis took to Twitter to share a video of himself speaking to reporters, saying, "No village in Maharashtra will go to Karnataka! The state government will fight hard in the Supreme Court to protect Marathi-speaking villages such as Belgaum, Karwar, and Nipani!"
What is the dispute?
The Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute dates back to 1960, when the states were reorganised along linguistic lines. The dispute is commonly known as the Belagavi or Belgaon border dispute, in which Maharashtra wishes to reclaim the Belgaum (also known as Belagavi) district and 80 other Marathi-speaking villages under the control of the southern state.
The Mahajan Committee was formed on June 5, 1960, in response to a memorandum issued by the Maharashtra government on June 23, 1957, to decide on the reorganisation of Belagavi.
Despite the committee's formation, no agreement could be reached, and the case is now before the Supreme Court.
What is the current political climate?
Following Fadnavis' media interview, Bommai called the Maharashtra BJP leader's remark "provocative," adding that "his dream will never come true."
"Devendra Fadnavis, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, has made a provocative statement on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border issue, and his dream will never come true. Our government is committed to safeguarding the state's land, water, and borders," said Bommai.
"Devendra Fadnavis, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, made a provocative statement on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute, which sparked outrage." He went on to say that Karnataka wants areas like Maharashtra's Solapur, which has a large number of Kannada speakers, to be incorporated into the state.
No progress has been made since 2012
However, Fadnavis revealed the resolution, stating that while a few villages passed it following the water crisis in 2012, no progress has been made since then.
Furthermore, Fadnavis asserted that the previous BJP government, led by him, had begun discussing an agreement with the Karnataka government to develop a water supply scheme for these villages. However, he added that the plan could not have been approved due to Covid and that it would be completed soon.
While Karnataka claims Kannada-speaking areas near the state border, Maharashtra has been pushing for a resolution to the dispute over Belgaum district, also known as Belagavi, and other Marathi-majority areas in Karnataka.
The case reached the Supreme Court in 2004 when the then-Maharashtra government claimed Belagavi city and 865 villages.
On Monday, Karnataka CM Bommai stated that the state has assembled a formidable legal team of senior lawyers to deal with the border dispute when it comes before the Supreme Court.
A 19-member Maharashtra committee has petitioned the Supreme Court to expedite the hearing in the case.
Following this, the Maharashtra government appointed Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai as nodal ministers to coordinate with the state's legal team on the pending matter before the Court on Tuesday.
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