As Bommai and Fadnavis breathe fire-and-brimstone on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute, both know it’s all for the gallery

The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 25-11-2022 | 07:45 pm

As Bommai and Fadnavis breathe fire-and-brimstone on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute, both know it’s all for the gallery

IT IS an issue in which the BJP’s much-vaunted “Double Engine Sarkar” claim falls flat, spectacularly. The decades-old Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute that has turned into a battle of nerves between the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai and the Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, both of the BJP, is unlikely to be resolved soon. No wonder then, that the BJP government at the Centre has refrained from taking any position, leaving the leaders of two neighbouring states to address the problem within the legal framework in the Supreme Court.The bone of contention between the neighbouring states is rooted in their carving out along linguistic lines via the State Reorganisation Act, 1956. While the dispute recurs periodically, with political outfits on both sides of the border exploiting parochial sentiments for electoral gain, its impact on the people remains suspect. Both governments maintain a cordial relationship, despite the differences.This time, the border row hit the headlines quite unexpectedly. On Monday, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde convened a meeting to discuss the topic, and appointed two senior ministers Chandrakant Patil of the BJP and Shambhuraj Desai of the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena to pursue it legally. He also announced pensions for freedom fighters living in areas claimed by Maharashtra on the Karnataka side of the border, and extended to them healthcare cover under the state’s Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya scheme.It seemed to be routine virtue-signalling, in response to the December 2019 decision by previous CM Uddhav Thackeray, who had deputed Chhagan Bhujbal and Eknath Shinde—then senior ministers in the MVA—to expedite a solution. But the very next day, the Karnataka CM said in Bengaluru that his government was seriously thinking of claiming Jatta taluka in Sangli district of Maharashtra as part of Karnataka, and announced grants to Kannada schools in Maharashtra. A day later, he laid claim to border villages in Solapur district of Maharashtra.Predictably, it reignited the festering issue. Fadnavis responded by pronouncing he will fight tooth-and-nail to safeguard the state’s territory. “We’ll not let a single village from Maharashtra to go to Karnataka,” he said, acting tough, and added, “We’ll legally fight to get back 865 Marathi-speaking villages along the border, including Carver, Nippani and Belgavi (earlier: Belgaum).”Such “tu tu main main” is not new. Irrespective of parties in power in the state and the Centre, both sides have often crossed swords on the topic. That has never stopped local opposition party units from taking advantage to stay in the headlines. Predictably, the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), which constitute the Maharashtra opposition coalition Maha Vikas Aghadi, seized the opportunity, with the Centre, Maharashtra and Karnataka all being ruled by the BJP.A Congress-NCP coalition government in Maharashtra has, in the past, faced a similar dilemma, after the UPA government at the Centre refused to take Maharashtra’s side in court. In 2010, the Centre, in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, had stated, “The transfer of certain areas to then Mysore (now Karnataka) was neither arbitrary nor wrong,” adding, “Both Parliament and Union government had considered all relevant factors while considering the State Reorganisation Bill, 1956, and the Bombay Reorganisation Bill, 1960.” Calling the Centre’s position as injustice to Maharashtra, the Maharashtra government had then decided to challenge the decision.With the dispute back on centrestage, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray has warned, “Anybody trying to claim Maharashtra villages will be dealt with an iron hand. The Marathi manoos will show its power.” Similar sentiments were echoed by leaders of its MVA coalition partners, the Congress and NCP. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress chief Nana Patole said, “The Centre is under BJP. It should intervene and give justice to Maharashtra. Those at the helm in the state should put pressure on the Centre to resolve the issue.”Each party is taking a hardline stand as part of their tactic of scoring brownie points. But they all know their limitations in the scheme of things. There is no easy solution to the problem, which even violent agitations since the creation of Maharashtra on May 1, 1960 have managed to resolve. But the periodic virtue-signalling continues. After Fadnavis said, “We won’t compromise on our stand of claiming 865 villages, along with Belgavi, Nippani and Carvar,” Bommai responded, “Karnataka has the right to claim Kannada-speaking villages in Solapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra.”On October 25, 1966, the Centre constituted the Mahajan Commission, headed by the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Meher Chand Mahajan, at the insistence of Maharashtra. While rejecting Maharashtra’s claim over Belgavi, the Commission recommended 247 villages/places, including Jatt, Akkalkote and Solapur, to be made part of Karnataka. It also declared 264 villages/places, including Nippani, Khanapur and Nandagad, to be made part of Maharashtra. Several attempts were subsequently made to resolve the row, but in vain.On March 2006, the Maharashtra government filed a petition in the Supreme Court, staking claim over the Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka, which vehemently contested the case in court, changed the name from the Marathi Belgaum to the Kannada Belgavi, and made it the state’s second capital.Thankfully, after six decades of intermittent disputes, people on both sides seem to have realised that these disputes will have to be resolved legally. Fadnavis later conceded as much, “There is no enmity between the states. We only want to solve the issue legally and reclaim our rights.”

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Opposition parties announce Pune bandh on December 13 protesting against Governor’s Shivaji remark
The Indian Express | 14 minutes ago | 08-12-2022 | 02:45 pm
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Opposition parties and Sambhaji Brigade, a prominent Maratha organisation, have called for a bandh in Pune next Tuesday, December 13, protesting against the alleged objectionable comments against Chhatrapati Shivaji made by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who called Shivaji an “icon of olden times”.Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction and Sambhaji Brigade met in front of the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue on the Shri Shivaji Preparatory Military School ground in Shivajinagar Wednesday.“It has been almost a month since the Governor made a controversial statement on Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji. The BJP leadership has not taken any action against him for insulting the Maratha king,” said Santosh Shinde of Sambhaji Brigade.“BJP leaders are repeatedly making statements insulting the Maratha king. There is a need to intensify the agitation against those insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji. Thus, a Pune bandh has been unanimously called on December 13 by representatives of various organisations. However, the bandh will not cause inconvenience to citizens,” he added.The meeting was attended by city NCP chief Prashant Jagtap, city Congress chief Arvind Shinde and Gajanan Thurkude of Shiv Sena “The NCP will participate in the Pune bandh. The details of the kind of agitation will be declared later on,” said city NCP spokesperson Pradeep Deshmukh. City Shiv Sena chief Sanjay More said he was not around and would later announce the plans for the agitation.Last month, during his speech at Dr Ambedkar Marathwada University, Koshyari said: “Earlier, when you would be asked who is your icon — Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Mahatma Gandhi used to be the answer. Whereas in Maharashtra, you need not look elsewhere (as) there are so many icons here… while Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is of olden times, there are icons such as Ambedkar and Nitin Gadkari in modern times.” The Governor’s statement evoked a sharp and angry backlash across political parties.

Opposition parties announce Pune bandh on December 13 protesting against Governor’s Shivaji remark
Daily Briefing: Gujarat, Himachal election results today; RBI unveils latest review of monetary policy; and more
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 08-12-2022 | 11:45 am
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Gujarat polls 2022: BJP poised to return to power, all eyes on how AAP will do
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 08-12-2022 | 11:45 am
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Sena factions submit proof of membership to poll body
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 08-12-2022 | 11:45 am
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The Shiv Sena (UBT), led by Uddhav Thackeray, has submitted around 20 lakh party membership forms and 2.83 lakh affidavits to the Election Commission (EC) of India, ahead of December 8 – the last day of submission of documents before the poll panel.From December 13, the EC will hear the dispute between the two Sena factions led by Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over which is the real Shiv Sena and would control the party’s organisational structure as well as have the right to use its election symbol bow and arrow.A Shiv Sena (UBT) leader said, “We have filed 2,83,000 affidavits of members from the organisational wing of the party and about 20 lakh primary membership forms. There are more members in the party but due to time constraints, we could only submit 20 lakh.”Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, led by Shinde, has till now submitted around 10 lakh forms of primary membership and 1.8 lakh affidavits from office-bearers. A Shinde faction leader claimed they would submit 10 lakh more membership forms soon. “Ten lakh forms have been submitted to the poll panel in physical form. But we have 10 lakh more forms, which were filled online. We will soon submit the same to the EC,” the leader added.After rebelling against the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in June, leading to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, the Shinde faction had moved EC, seeking allocation of the party’s election symbol and his faction’s recognition as the “real” Shiv Sena. Both the factions of the party were instructed by the EC to submit documentary evidences of their factions, including letters of support and other documents to prove they are the original Sena.

Sena factions submit proof of membership to poll body