Accusing his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray of raking up the Belagavi border issue once again for political gains, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on December 30 declared that not even an inch of state's land will be given away.
"It has been decided in the Mahajan report what has to go to Maharashtra and Karnataka. For political benefit the Chief Minister there is trying to create confusion. I condemn it. There is no question of giving away even an inch of land," Yediyurappa said.
Some of his cabinet colleagues also attacked the Maharashtra Chief Minister besides targeting the Congress asking it to spell out its stand on Belagavi since it was supporting the government in the neighbouring state.
Speaking to reporters here, he said the Maharashtra Chief Minister was trying to create a rift between Marathi and Kannada people. "Our people should maintain peace and brotherhood, there is no question of giving away even an inch of Karnataka's land. Just because someone made a statement there is no need to create confusion. I appeal to our people to maintain peace," he added.
Maharashtra claims the border district of Belagavi was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, but is currently a district of Karnataka, on linguistic grounds.
Bus services from Kolhapur district in Maharashtra to Karnataka had been suspended on December 29 against the backdrop of the ongoing border dispute between the two states over Belagavi.
North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation had suspended bus services from Belagavi to Kolhapur and other parts of Maharashtra on Sunday, the chief traffic manager of NWKRTC Santosh Kumar told PTI.
The NWKRTC official said services had been restored and buses were plying as usual. "Now services have been restored and buses are plying as usual," Kumar said.
Uddhav Thackeray had earlier this month had appointed ministers Chhagan Bhujbal and Eknath Shinde as co-coordinators to oversee his government's efforts to expedite the case relating to the boundary dispute with Karnataka.
Shiv Sena workers had reportedly hit the streets in Kolhapur on Sunday and burnt effigies of Yediyurappa and Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and stopped the screening of Kannada films there. The activists had also blackened billboards,having Kannada text, of some shopkeepers in Gandhinagar area.
The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), which has been fighting for the merger of 800 odd villages with Maharashtra had recently submitted a memorandum of their demands to Uddhav Thackeray.
Police deployment has been increased in the border areas of Belagavi to see to that no untoward incidents takes place, police sources said, adding that few pro Kannada organisation staged protests against Shiv Sena in Sankeshwarand a few other places in the district. Stating that Belagavi is "part and parcel of Karnataka", Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar sought to know Congress' stand on the issue, as the party was supporting the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra.
"Uddhav Thackeray became the CM with the Congress support. But whats the stand of the state Congress? Let them withdraw their support (to Shiv Sena) otherwise," he said asserting thatKannadigas and Marathis are living together in peace in Belagavi, where the government has built "Suvarna Soudha".
Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, modeled on the Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat in Bengaluru, where legislature session is held once a year, was built as an assertion that Belagavi is an integral part of Karnataka.
Maharashtra claims Belagavi should belong to it. Alleging that in Kolhapur, some Shiv Sena workers had burnt the Kannada flag, Health Minister Sriramulu said Uddhav Thackeray, after becoming the chief minister, has started his "mischief", and noted that there would not be any compromise on the issue of land, water and language of the state.
Accusing Shiv Sena of raking up the issue for political gains, Revenue Minister R Ashoka said "our government will not be cowed down by such threats, and there was no question of any compromise on the issue of our land and border."