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Dy CM Fadnavis on Bommai’s statement

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Wednesday that no village in Maharashtra has recently pursued a merger with Karnataka, and that there is no talk of a border village “anywhere”.

Basavaraj Bommai, the chief minister of Karnataka, alleged on Tuesday that some village panchayats in Jat taluka of Sangli district of Maharashtra had passed a resolution to merge with Karnataka in the past when facing a severe water crisis.

The Karnataka government had devised plans to help them by providing water, and his government was seriously considering the Jat villages proposal, he said.

“These villages had submitted a resolution on the issue of water scarcity in 2012. Currently, none of the villages have submitted a resolution,” Fadnavis told reporters in Nagpur.

When he became chief minister of Maharashtra, his government made an agreement with Karnataka to solve the water issue, he said.

A water supply plan was outlined for the Jat villages when Girish Mahajan was water resources minister in his cabinet, the BJP leader added.

“We are now going to approve that plan. Perhaps the previous (Uddhav Thackeray-led) government could not approve it due to Covid,” Fadnavis added.

“Currently, none of the villages have asked such a question (of merging with Karnataka). The question is from 2012,” he said.

“No village of Maharashtra will go anywhere,” Fadnavis stressed.

Sudhir Mungantiwar, BJP leader and minister of Maharashtra, blamed Jawaharlal Nehru for the long-running dispute.

“The dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is actually a gift from the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru,” he said without elaborating.

The case is now before the Supreme Court and any resolution passed by village panchayats will not affect the court ruling, he told reporters.

“If resolutions are to be taken so seriously, what about the villages in Karnataka that have passed resolutions to join Maharashtra,” he asked.

Earlier in the day, another Maharashtra minister, Shambhuraj Desai, said that the Karnataka chief minister’s allegations should not be taken seriously.

The decades-old border dispute over Belagavi (formerly Belgaum) between Maharashtra and Karnataka is in the news again due to recent statements by both parties.

On Monday, Bommai had said he had formed a formidable legal team of senior lawyers to handle the border dispute when it comes before the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the Maharashtra government appointed Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai as chief ministers to coordinate with the state’s legal team regarding the pending court case.

Speaking to reporters here, Desai said, “While Maharashtra has reassembled its team to take the Karnataka border dispute to the Supreme Court, Bommai has come up with a ridiculous old demand. It should not be taken seriously. The villages of Jat tehsil reportedly passed a resolution more than a decade ago to put pressure on the then state government to meet their demand for water supply from the Krishna River. .

“According to my information, the government of Maharashtra has already approved a proposal to supply water for irrigation to the arid parts of Jat tehsil. The cost of the project is about Rs 1,200 crore. Technical investigation of the project is ongoing,” said Desai.

The border dispute dates back to the 1960s following the reorganization of states along linguistic lines.

Maharashtra claimed Belagavi, which was part of the former Bombay Presidency, as it has a significant Marathi speaking population. It also laid claim to 80 Marathi speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka.

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