Mumbai: After the recent war of words between leaders from Maharashtra and Karnataka over the border dispute, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday made a strong case for declaring the areas dominated by Marathi-speaking people on the state’s border with Karnataka as a Union Territory until the Supreme Court delivered a final verdict on the issue.
At a function to release a book on the boundary dispute between the two states, Thackeray took an aggressive posture and strongly criticised the Karnataka government over the alleged atrocities on the Marathi-speaking population in those areas, and said there was a need to fight to win the case for their inclusion in Maharashtra.
He also lashed out at the Karnataka government saying that when the case was being heard in the Supreme Court, it had done a disservice by renaming Belgaum to Belagavi, giving it the status of a second capital, constructing a legislature and holding one session of the legislature. ‘‘Isn't this contempt of court?’’ Thackeray asked.
‘‘Now it is not just a myth. We have to take back our land from the state of Karnataka,’’ Thackeray avowed.
“We have to learn from past experiences and fight to win. The Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking areas will be included in Maharashtra,” he asserted.
The chief minister also targeted the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) for allegedly disintegrating and weakening the Marathi cause for selfish political interests. “Earlier, the MES won half-a-dozen MLAs. The Belgaum mayor used to be a Marathi-speaking person. The Shiv Sena never entered the political fray in Belgaum because it did not want to weaken the MES,” he said.
Thackeray, who heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) with the NCP and the Congress, said a time-bound action plan needed to be charted out to win the legal battle and ensure the Marathi-speaking leadership and people in those areas of Karnataka remain united.
‘‘Let's pledge that we will not rest till we win. If the long-pending issue is not resolved during this (MVA) government's tenure, it will never be,’’ he said.
He called upon leaders from all parties to forget differences and come together to stop the atrocities on the Marathi people in the border areas.
‘‘In Karnataka, whichever political party's government or chief minister takes charge, they have one thing in common - atrocities against Marathi people and language,’’ he charged.
Marathi people should also unite, he said, adding, ‘‘Let us be determined to win’’.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the Supreme Court was the ‘‘last weapon for the state’’ and Maharashtra should put to use all its legal acumen to win the case.
‘‘We have to fight to win. There is no other option. It is good that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is taking a lead in this direction. Maharashtra needs to sink its political differences and show more unity in this case,’’ he said.
Need to stop atrocities on Marathi-speaking people: CM
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said there was a need for all parties to unite and aggressively take up with the Centre so that the Marathi speaking areas in Karnataka would come to Maharashtra. With the Supreme Court hearing pending, the Karnataka government has started destroying Marathi from the border areas and it has to be stopped, he added.
Thackeray, who chaired the high-powered committee meeting on border dispute, said even though the matter was pending with the apex court, the Centre needed to play an impartial role. ‘‘We have to forget all differences and work together, so that the Marathi-speaking areas return to Maharashtra,’’ he noted.
Maharashtra claims areas such as Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani, which are part of Karnataka.