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Karnataka BJP, Congress tear into Uddhav Thackeray’s comments over Belagavi

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Bengaluru: Chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday slammed his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray for his pledge to incorporate parts of Karnataka where Marathas are dominant into Maharashtra.

Thackeray’s comments are in line with ruling Shiv Sena’s claims on parts of the Belagavi region, and his tweets on Sunday are only an iteration in that direction. His comments, however, came under sharp attack in Karnataka, with former chief ministers Siddaramaiah (Congress) and HD Kumaraswamy (Janata Dal-S) joining Yediyurappa.

As pro-Kannada groups erupted in anger over Thackeray’s statement, the Karnataka chief minister sought to cool the frayed nerves asking them to

ignore the statements and move on. But he sent a terse message to the Maharashtra government for what he called attempts to instigate Kannadigas and Marathas living peacefully in the border areas.

“(Justice) Mahajan Commission report (on the border dispute) is final. He (Thackeray) too is aware of that, but is nevertheless making statements to disturb the peace and harmony in the border for his own political gains,” Yediyurappa told reporters at Udupi in coastal Karnataka.

The Shiv Sena leader’s comments reflect his arrogance and disrespect to India’s federal structure, Yediyurappa said. “Karnataka will not cede even an inch of land to Maharashtra,” he added, seeking to put a lid on the border issue the southern state has long held closed. However, Maharashtra had filed petitions in the apex court challenging the status quo.

“I expect Thackeray, as a true Indian, to show his commitment and respect to the principles of federalism in letter and spirit,” the Karnataka chief minister said, and asked Kannada groups to ignore his provocative statements and move on.

The Maharashtra chief minister on Sunday said his government was committed to take over parts of Karnataka’s border areas, and pay real tribute to the Maratha warriors who laid down their lives fighting for the cause in 1956.

His remarks, however, have left fuming the Karnataka unit of Congress, which shares power with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Opposition leader Siddaramaiah asked Thackeray not to instigate “us by bringing up the issue which is already resolved”.

“You are not just a Shiv Sena activist. Don’t forget that you are also a responsible chief minister,” the Congress leader tweeted. He also urged Yediyurappa to give a befitting response to Thackeray’s “stupid comments”, and added: “We will never compromise or politicise on matters related to land-water-language of Karnataka.”

Deputy chief minister CN Ashwath Narayan urged the Congress to withdraw its support to Shiv Sena as the Maharashtra chief minister’s comments were an attack on India’s unity.

Kumaraswamy said the Maharashtra chief minister’s comments showed his “expansionary” mindset akin to that of China.

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