Credit where due, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has succeeded in masking the innumerable failures of his government by raking up a border dispute with Karnataka. As Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa comes under increasing pressure from Kannada groups to act against the Maharashtra government, Thackeray has got the opportunity to play the Marathi Asmita card — something he was desperately yearning for.
At a time when Kannada groups are putting pressure on Yediyurappa to file a defamation case in the Supreme Court against the Maharashtra government over the Belgavi border dispute, Maharashtra is preparing to fight the border dispute in the country’s apex court, Uddhav’s clever ploy to instigate a Maratha-Kannadiga fight to hide his failures is appearing to succeed.
The Maharashtra government recently released a book in the Marathi language, ‘Maharashtra-Karnataka Border dispute: Struggle & determination’ at an event where Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and State Congress Chief Balasaheb Thorat were present.
At the event, Uddhav Thackeray attempted to escalate the matters as he said, “Despite the matter is in court, Karnataka Govt has deliberately changed the name of the disputed region of Belgaum. Looking at atrocities of Marathi speaking people in that area, our Govt will approach SC to declare that part as Union Territory till the matter is in court.”
One would expect such strongly-worded statements from a Shiv Sena activist rather than a state CM like Uddhav. The claim of atrocities against Marathi speaking should have been avoided, however, it seems that the lust for playing the Marathi Asmita card seems to have gain precedence.
The Karnataka BJP hit back sarcastically against the Thackery-led Maharashtra government.“The people of this region, as well as I, demand that Mumbai should be included in Karnataka. Until that is done, I demand the Central govt to declare Mumbai as a Union Territory,” said Karnataka Deputy CM Laxman Savadi.
Earlier this month, a tweet from Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office had stirred a controversy. “Bringing back Marathi linguistic and cultural regions from Karnataka to Maharashtra will be the real tribute to the martyrs who lost their lives in the fight of Belgavi border dispute. We are united and committed to this. With these words, we give homage to the martyrs,” read the tweet.
The border dispute presents a golden opportunity to the Maharashtra CM to corner the BJP as the latter is ruling Karnataka. Uddhav can smartly use Karnataka BJP to attack the party’s state unity and push the party into an uncomfortable spot. The Karnataka BJP would, of course, protect the state’s interests at all costs — something which Uddhav is planning to use against the Maharashtra BJP.
It is pertinent to note that even Shiv Sena’s alliance partner in Maharashtra, the Indian National Congress has hit out at Uddhav Thackeray.
In a series of tweets, Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, said, “I strongly condemn the statement made by Uddhav Thackeray about our Belagavi. Belagavi is an integral part of Karnataka. Don’t try to instigate us by bringing up the issue which is already resolved.”
He added, “Mahajan report is final with respect to Belagavi border issue. Uddhav Thackeray, don’t try to politicise the issue which is already decided. You are not just a Shiv Sena activist. Don’t forget that you are also a responsible Chief Minister.”
Recently, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) working president Satish Jarkiholi termed Uddhav’s remark on the Belagavi border dispute as a ‘political gimmick’.
“I don’t want Mumbai, you (Uddhav Thackeray) don’t ask Belagavi from us. Being a Kannadiga, I would like to give a message to Uddhav Thackeray not to resort to politics in this sensitive matter, as all Marathi people in Karnataka are living happily along with Kannadigas (Kannada speaking people),” said Jarikholi. He added, “It is a political gimmick of Chief Minister Thackeray.”
Thackeray has succeeded in shifting the attention of Maharashtrians, from his absolute bungling of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic to the border dispute with Karnataka. At the end of the day, Uddhav and his minions won’t pay the price for raking up such a sensitive topic, but the country will.