Highlights

  • Shiv Sena targets BJp govt in Maharashtra, Centre over border issue
  • Border row escalated as Maharashtra trucks attacked in Karnataka on Tuesday
  • Border issue dates back to 1957 after reorganisation of states on linguistic lines

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Raut also alleged attempts are being made to make Maharashtra unstable as no chief minister of Karnataka had ever staked claim to villages in Solapur and Sangli. 

Amid a simmering border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka which spilled onto roads, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday demanded Belagavi be declared a Union Territory and claimed incidents of violence in Belagavi cannot take place without "Delhi's support".

He also hit out at Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, saying the state government appeared weak and helpless to counter such attacks.

Raut also alleged attempts are being made to make Maharashtra unstable as no chief minister of Karnataka had ever staked claim to (villages in) Solapur and Sangli.

Also watch:Over 50 Maharashtra villages threaten to merge with Gujarat even as Karnataka border dispute rages

Hitting back, Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Chandrashekhar Bawankule asked the Rajya Sabha member to refrain from making "baseless and provocative comments".

The decades-old raging dispute between the two states spilled onto roads on Tuesday with stones being hurled at vehicles entering Karnataka from the Maharashtra side near a toll booth at Hirebaugwadi in Belagavi district. Similarly, at least four buses from Karnataka were defaced in Pune district allegedly by activists of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) faction and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

Raut in a tweet on Wednesday targeted the Central government by claiming that Marathi people and vehicles from Maharashtra cannot be attacked in Belagavi without "Delhi's support".

"Workers of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti have been arrested. The game of ending Marathi self-esteem by breaking its backbone has started. The attacks in Belagavi are part of the same conspiracy. Get up Marathas get up!" Raut said.

Later, talking to reporters, Raut said Belagavi and surrounding Marathi-speaking areas along the Karnataka-Maharashtra border be declared as a Union Territory.

"If Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has guts, he should demand the disputed areas be declared as a union territory immediately," he said.

Raut said people are ready to go to Belagavi under the leadership of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar.

“We don't know what is happening? There is a BJP government at the Centre, there is a BJP government in Karnataka and also in Maharashtra," Raut said.

A day earlier, Pawar had said he and his associates, an apparent reference to the constituents of Maha Vikas Aghadi, will visit Belagavi to give confidence to activists of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES).

"(Chief Minister Eknath) Shinde says he has created a revolution. What kind of a revolution it is can be seen in the manner how the state is looking weak to counter these attacks," Raut said.

Those who quit the Shiv Sena saying they have self-respect have now decided to stay silent, he added.

Raut claimed attempts are being made to weaken Maharashtra economically by taking its projects to Gujarat and staking a claim on its areas.

"Where are the chief minister and the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra? Are their mouths locked? Their (Eknath Shinde group's) symbol -'sword and shield' - should be changed to a lock.

"Attempts are made to make the state unstable. No chief minister of Karnataka earlier stakes claims to (villages in) Solapur and Sangli," he alleged.

Taking a dig at Maharashtra ministers Shambhuraj Desai and Chandrakant Patil for "backing out" from visiting Belagavi on Tuesday, Raut said, "We will give them protection and march with them”.

The scheduled visit of a Maharashtra ministerial delegation to Belagavi did not materialise amid the simmering tension over the boundary row.

Maharashtra BJP chief Bawankule slammed Raut over his remarks and asked him to refrain from making baseless and provocative comments.

"How can a government be responsible for the violence which is carried out by anti-social elements?" he asked.

Bawankule said vandalism of buses from Karnataka has also been reported in Maharashtra.

"Do we say the government is responsible?" the BJP leader asked.

Amid the rising tension between the two states, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and his Maharashtra counterpart Shinde spoke to each other over the phone on Tuesday night and agreed there should be peace and law and order should be maintained on both sides.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also spoke to Bommai over stone pelting on vehicles from Maharashtra entering the southern state and said he will also take up the matter with the Centre.

The border issue dates back to 1957 after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines. Maharashtra had laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population.

Bommai recently sought a merger of "Kannada-speaking" areas in Maharashtra's Akkalkot and Solapur and had also said some villages in Jat taluka in Sangli district wanted to join the southern state.

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