Eknath Shinde. Photo: PTI
Nagpur: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said the state should stand firmly behind people in the Marathi-speaking areas of neighbouring Karnataka and appealed to political parties not to behave in a way that would hurt them.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state government will initiate a special programme for the development of villages located along the border and resolve their pending issues.
The Maharashtra government was making efforts for the release of the people and leaders detained in Karnataka, he said amid the ongoing boundary dispute between the two states.
Raising the issue in the Assembly on the first day of the state legislature's winter session in Nagpur, Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar said Shiv Sena MP Dhairyasheel Mane (of the Shinde faction) was stopped from entering Belagavi in Karnataka, despite the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the boundary dispute.
Mane was recently appointed as the chief of an expert committee formed by the Maharashtra government regarding a writ petition in the Supreme Court on the border dispute with Karnataka.
He had requested the Belagavi administration to make arrangements for his visit to the city. However, the district authorities banned his entry, saying a "possible inflammatory speech" by him might create law and order problems.
“When it was decided before Amit Shah ji that they (people) will not be stopped, how can a district collector stop the MP (Mane) from entering there. We should not tolerate this high handedness. The CM and DyCM should take a firm stand. When (Karnataka Chief Minister B S) Bommai had accepted it then the collector did not listen to Bommai,” Pawar said.
Responding to it, Shinde said there can be no dispute over the fact that the issue raised by Pawar is important in terms of Maharashtra.
“For the first time, the Union home minister intervened in the matter and mediated. He called a meeting and this has happened for the first time. He has taken the matter seriously,” the CM said.
“We should stand by the people residing in border areas, back their struggle and act in a way that doesn't hurt them,” he added.
Shinde said the state government urged the Centre that this issue is related to the self-respect of Maharashtra and that it should take a firm stand in the favour of Maharashtra and people residing in the border areas.
“We said vehicles from Maharashtra are vandalised and attacked. This is not in sync with law and order and democracy. Such things should not happen because there could be a reaction to an action," the CM said.
The Union home minister also gave instructions that such things should not happen since the matter is (pending) before the Supreme Court, Shinde said.
Without naming former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Shinde said the earlier government had stopped schemes (pertaining to the welfare of people residing in border areas), while his government has again started them in four months.
“We have got information from the police which parties are behind the resolution (passed by some border villages of Maharashtra) to merge with neighbouring states. We have all the information,” Shinde said.
He said an irrigation project worth Rs 2,000 crore for 48 villages in Jat taluka in Sangli was cleared by the cabinet on Sunday. Villages in Jath have been facing the issue of water problem for decades.
In the state Legislative Council, its Leader of Opposition Ambadas Danve also raised the issue of the simmering border row and condemned the ban imposed by the Belagavi district authorities on Shiv Sena MP Mane from going there.
"Are we living on the India-Pakistan border that such things are happening?" Danve asked.
He said the Maharashtra government should take a strong stand on this issue. MLCs Shashikant Shinde, Abhijeet Wanjari and Jayant Patil also raised concerns about the Maharashtra leaders not allowed in Karnataka.
Replying to it, Deputy CM Fadnavis said the state government will initiate a special programme for the development of villages located along the border and resolve their pending issues.
He said the Maharashtra government stands firmly with residents of villages located along the Karnataka border and it was wrong of the neighbouring state to stop the Maharashtra leaders from going there.
The Maharashtra government condemns this and will convey it to the Karnataka government, he said.
For the first time, the Union home minister has intervened in this issue and held talks with the chief ministers of both the states.
Karnataka CM Bommai said they do not want to escalate the issue as it is pending before the Supreme Court, Fadnavis noted.
Both the chief ministers have said the escalation of the issue should stop, Fadnavis added and informed that a committee of three ministers from both the sides has been formed so that a dialogue should continue for the de-escalation of the dispute.
The Council proceedings were later adjourned for the day after paying respects to the deceased legislators.
Talking to reporters in the Vidhan Bhavan complex, Fadnavis said, "It was decided before the Union home minister that people from both the states will not be stopped from crossing the border and visiting the neighbouring areas."
"However, the Karnataka government did not allow people from Maharashtra to participate in a local morcha organised democratically. We will also discuss the issue with Karnataka chief minister,” he said.
Lok Sabha member Mane was supposed to attend the rally organised by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), but was denied permission to visit Belagavi.
The MES has been demanding the merger of Belagavi with Maharashtra claiming the district has a substantial Marathi population.
Asked about a controversial tweet issued in the name of Bommai some days back, Fadnavis said, “The chief minister himself had stated before the Union home minister that it was posted from a fake account. We will also try to find out what action has been taken against such a tweet.”
Maharashtra CM Shinde last week said tweets in the name of his Karnataka counterpart claiming some areas of Maharashtra were not actually posted by Bommai.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who last week met the chief ministers of Maharashtra and Karnataka to defuse the border tensions between the two states, had said fake tweets in the name of top leaders also escalated the issue.