Violence erupted near Hirebagewadi, 24km from Belagavi, with Vedike activists throwing stones at buses, a day after the Karnataka government issued ban orders preventing a two-member team of ministers from Maharashtra to enter the district.
Shiv Sena (UBT) workers retaliated by defacing four buses of the Karnataka State Transport near Pune. The border issue is expected to reach the Supreme Court shortly and Karnataka is scheduled for polls between April and May 2023.
BJP blames Congress, JD(S) for Maharashtra-Karnataka row
As the border dispute hit a flashpoint on Tuesday with buses targeted by both sides, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis called Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai condemn the violence, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort by the BJP’s central leadership to put out the fire.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar has given CM of Karnataka a 24-hour “ultimatum” to stop the violence. He said there was “a limit to Maharashtra’s patience”. Pawar accused Bommai of instigating the border crisis and said the Center had to intervene.
NCP ally Shiv Sena (UBT) also went on the offensive, with party MP Sanjay Raut declaring, “If Maharashtra stands up, it will be tough for the government.” He added: “Where is the prime minister? How can he watch Maharashtra being insulted? This is a weak government. Even today, the only retaliation has come from the Shiv Sena.
The BJP, on the other hand, accused Congress and Janata Dal of the violence. “Congress and Janata Dal are behind this incident. Congress hopes to take advantage of this in the future,” said the BJP’s Keshav Upadhyay. Jitendra Awhad of the NCP asked why Maharashtra was suddenly facing problems along its border villages, not only those near Karnataka but also along the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border.
Fadnavis said he will speak to Union Home Minister Amit Shah. “Bommai has assured me that immediate action will be taken and no one will be spared,” he said. “We are working for development and such an atmosphere between the states is not desirable, especially since the matter is before the Supreme Court. If a state does not listen, the matter will have to be brought to the Center,” Fadnavis said.
Meanwhile, sarpanches from 12 of 55 villages in Nashik’s tribal-dominated Surgana taluka, whose residents had said they wanted to merge with Gujarat, also came forward to say people had no plans to leave Maharashtra.
Bommai said his state does not intend to create a new controversy. “I said there will be reactions from both sides and, therefore, we must not disturb the cordial relationship between the two states,” she said. “SC is invested in the matter and we are confident of winning this legal battle. Our government is committed to protecting our border and people and taking care of the Kannadigas living in Maharashtra, Telangana and Kerala,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sena activists were arrested as they tried to cross into Karnataka. As a precautionary measure, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation has halted its bus services to Karnataka. Karnataka police have stepped up surveillance along the border, with more than 1,000 police officers deployed.