The political heat over the inter-state border row has escalated with Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai hitting back at Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis terming his statement on the issue "provocative".
"No village in Maharashtra will go to Karnataka! The state government will fight strongly in the Supreme Court to get Marathi speaking villages in Karnataka including Belgaum-Karwar-Nipani!," said Fadnavis.
In a retort, Bommai, terming it a provocative statement, said: "His (Fadnavis') dream will never come true. Our government is committed to protecting our state's land, water and borders. He further said that there was no question of giving up any space in the border districts of Karnataka.
In fact, he said: "Our demand is that the Kannada speaking areas of Maharashtra like Solapur and Akkalkot should join Karnataka." The dispute over Belagavi dates back to the 1960s after the reorganisation of States on linguistic lines.
Earlier this week, the Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra appointed two ministers to coordinate with the legal team regarding the court case on the dispute set to come up in the Supreme Court.
Bommai said soon after that the State has deployed a battery of top lawyers, including Mukul Rohatgi and Shyam Diwan, to fight its case.
Bommai said since 2004, the Maharashtra government has filed a case in the Apex court over the border issue. "So far they have not succeeded and they will not succeed in future as well. We are geared up to strengthen our legal battle." The Karnataka CM had claimed that the Panchayats in Jath Taluka in Sangli district of Maharashtra had passed a resolution in the past to merge with Karnataka when there was a severe drought situation and acute drinking water crisis, and his government has evolved schemes to help them by providing water.
Responding to this, Fadnavis told reporters in Nagpur on Wednesday: "These villages (in Jat Taluk) had introduced a resolution on the issue of water scarcity in 2012. Presently, none of the villages have introduced any resolution." Karnataka has repeatedly maintained that the Mahajan Commission report on the border issue is final, and "there is no question of letting go even an inch of Karnataka's border".
Bommai reiterated this week that there is no example to show that what had been done under the States Reorganisation Act was reviewed.
"The border dispute is a political tool used by all parties in Maharashtra. But they will never succeed," he had said.Shinde said earlier this week: "Late Balasaheb Thackeray was always a staunch supporter of the state's demand to make Belgaum (Belagavi) a part of Maharashtra. We have concentrated our focus on solving the issue. If required, the number of lawyers would be increased".