DC Edit | Maharashtra, Karnataka must resolve border issue peacefully
The entire nation has had enough of the war of words, needlessly provocative stances and vituperative exchanges between the politicians on both sides of the Maharashtra and Karnataka border, over an inter-state land and border issue that can, and should, be resolved peacefully and amicably. Instead, leaders on both sides of the border are playing to their respective galleries, read constituencies, and trying to add to the political heat, hoping to derive some future electoral mileage.
Despite Union home minister Amit Shah bringing both state governments to the table to resolve the issue, the latest salvo in the ongoing saga came from Maharashtra, the Legislative Assembly of which passed a resolution to include over 865 Marathi-speaking Karnataka villages in its state through “legal means”, alleging that Karnataka was not treating Marathi-speaking people properly. It was an attempt by the ruling party to pre-empt the Opposition from exploiting the matter.
The Maharashtra Assembly resolution, which was moved by chief minister Eknath Shinde, was given its fullest support by his deputy, Devendra Fadnavis, and it was passed unanimously in the House. The move was extremely political, and an attempt to ensure that the Opposition, comprising the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress, don’t accuse the Maharashtra government of going easy on Karnataka, the BJP being the common factor in both states. A day earlier, Uddhav Thackeray had suggested that the “disputed areas” be temporarily made a Union territory till a more permanent solution is found at the Supreme Court.
Maharashtra now wishes to fight the case to incorporate several areas, including Belagavi, Karwar, Nipani, Bidar Bhalki and others, into its borders in the Supreme Court. Maharashtra has accused Karnataka of precipitating the crisis, seeing as the southern state had earlier passed a resolution in its House, unanimously, on the issue. With Karnataka going to the polls shortly, all parties have their war masks on.
This despite the fact that Mr Shah had requested both states not to enter into a verbal spat of claims and counter-claims until the Supreme Court gave a verdict.
Earlier, Karnataka, in its state Assembly resolution, had said that it would not cede even an inch of land to its neighbour. Certain MLAs on both sides breached all decorum by accusing the other state of having “sneaked into our border like China”. Drawing parallels for internal state-border issues with international conflict situations is one of the many dangerous fallouts of the ongoing affair.
Many Indian states have long-pending water disputes. Even Central bodies and statutory authorities, and court battles later, there are difficult issues that sporadically become highly volatile based on the politics in different states. It would be a terribly regressive step for Indian states to add land border settlements to the litany of unresolved problems.
The land border problem, which arose after the 1960 border settlement and creation of a new linguistic state, can be resolved amicably. It would be best if respectful talks are deployed, and nothing else, to end this bitter saga.