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Karnataka slams Maharashtra leaders on border row

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January 20, 2009 17:05 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka on Tuesday lashed out at Maharashtra leaders' demand to declare Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka as Union Territory till the Supreme Court decides on the issue, saying it would 'back-fire' on that state.

"There are a large number of Kannada-speaking people in Sholapur and Kolhapur and at different places (in Maharashtra). If they are also converted as Union Territories, the issue will not stop anywhere," Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister S Suresh Kumar told PTI.

He also reacted sharply to Maharashtra leaders' moves to take a delegation to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the border row.

"The Mahajan Commission report on the border row had been accepted by the then Congress government at the Centre. These kinds of demands, pressure... how many years would they keep talking about?" he asked.

Suresh Kumar warned that if Maharashtra leaders continue to rake up the boundary issue, Karnataka would be forced to raise 'in the same way, its legitimate demand' and also take a delegation to the President and the Prime Minister.

He said the competition between the states should not be in terms of 'snatching villages' but focus should be on development, administration and governance.

The Central government in 1966 constituted a commission, headed by third CJI Meher Chand Mahajan, to solve the border dispute between the two states.

The Mahajan Commission had recommended exchange of several villages between the states, but rejected Maharashtra's claim on Belgaum's city.

The Congress in Maharashtra on Monday demanded that the 'disputed' Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka be declared as a Union Territory till Supreme Court decides on the issues.

Flaying the Karnataka government's decision to hold the legislature session in Belgaum, MPCC spokesman Anant Gadgil said, "holding the legislature session is rubbing salt to the wounds of the Marathi people in Belgaum."

"The issue remains unresolved for 50 years and the BJP government in Karnataka has resorted to suppressing the voice of the Marathi speaking people in these disputed areas," Congress leader Anant Gadgil said.

Shiv Sena leaders had threatened to take a delegation to the President and the Prime Minister on the issue.

On whether the boundary row would impact BJP-Sena ties in Maharashtra, Suresh Kumar said, "Ultimately, political leaders (of BJP and Sena) should think from a bigger framework."

"I don't think alliance partners (BJP and Sena in Maharashtra) will face any difficulty in the Parliamentary elections," he said.

"I don't think it will cause discontent or discord between the two parties," he added.

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