Uncertainty looms in Nagpur on Monday in the state legislature over a resolution on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border dispute as the ruling Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (BSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party are divided over it. Although the BSS had announced on Friday that it would bring the resolution on Monday, the state BJP leadership is reportedly not interested.
Excise Minister Shambhuraj Desai, who belongs to Chief Minister Éknáth Shinde’s BSS-led coalition, announced on Friday that he would table a “stronger and more aggressive” resolution (than Karnataka’s) on Monday. The announcement came in the backdrop of a resolution passed in the Karnataka Assembly on the issue on Thursday. However, the resolution is not mentioned at all on the meeting agenda of both chambers for Monday. According to leaders from the BSS, the BJP is not very interested in bringing the resolution immediately, leading to the delay in bringing the resolution.
“It’s unlikely to be tabled right away on Monday because it’s not shown in the order of the day.” The BJP expects to gain in Karnataka from the dispute in the next assembly elections early next year. BJP leaders from Maharashtra are opposed to resolving the dispute in two minds, as they believe it would damage the party’s electoral prospects in the neighboring state. Although there has been no final discussion yet, a resolution may come later in the week in the winter session,” said a BSS leader on condition of anonymity.
“The Chief Commissioner is very keen for a solution as he faces a backlash from the opposition accusing him of a ‘soft stance’ compared to his Karnataka counterpart,” the leader said. A BJP leader said a decision on the resolution is expected to be taken after a meeting between senior leaders of the two ruling parties and the resolution may be tabled “soon”. The party wants to be careful, the resolution says, because it does not want its governments to have problems in both states.
The opposition, on the other hand, on Monday decided to step up its attack against the ruling parties over the issue along with other issues including NIT land allotment, phone tapping and others. She moved an adjournment motion in the Legislative Council calling for a debate on the border row, leaving other matters aside.
Former chief minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray is expected to attend the council meeting on Monday. The constituents of the MVA – Shiv Sena (UBT), NCP and Congress – which boycotted the Assembly proceedings on Friday, will attend the House on Monday. Before that, the three parties are expected to meet in the presence of Thackeray.
“We have decided to intensify our attack in the second and final week,” said a senior Congress official. The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has been hounding the Shinde-Fadnavis government for the past few weeks over the Maharashtra-Karnataka border issue as Karnataka claims 40 villages from Maharashtra. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s aggressive and provocative stance on the dispute has inflamed tensions between the two states. Amid the dispute, the Karnataka Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution pledging not to compromise on the border dispute accusing Maharashtra of “creating” it.
The border row between the two states flared up last month after Bommai said they were seriously considering laying claim to more than 40 Jat villages in Sangli. This led to violent protests at the border and the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Maharashtra moved the Supreme Court in 2004 demanding the incorporation of 865 Marathi-speaking villages in three districts of Karnataka into Maharashtra.
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