Mumbai, Jan 27: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said areas dominated by Marathi-speaking people on the State’s border with Karnataka should be declared as a Union Territory till the Supreme Court gives its final verdict on the issue.

Speaking at the launch of a book on the boundary dispute between the two States, Thackeray lashed out at the Karnataka government over alleged atrocities on Marathi-speaking population in those areas, and said there is a need to fight to win the case for their inclusion in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra claims certain areas, including Belgaum, Karwar and Nippani which are part of Karnataka, contending the majority of population in these areas is Marathi-speaking.

The case over the dispute between the two States is pending before the Supreme Court for many years.

Thackeray said, “When the case is being heard in the Supreme Court, the Karnataka government renames Belgaum (as Belagavi) declares it as its second capital, constructs a legislature building and holds one legislature session there. Isn’t this contempt of court?”

He said the “Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking areas should be declared as a Union Territory” till the Supreme Court gives its verdict.

“We have to learn from past experiences and fight to win. The Karnataka-occupied Marathi-speaking areas will be included in Maharashtra,” he asserted.

The Chief Minister also targeted the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) for allegedly weakening the Marathi cause for selfish political interests.

The MES is an organisation fighting for the merger of 800-odd villages, where the Marathi-speaking population is dominant, with Maharashtra.

“Earlier, the MES had half-a-dozen MLAs, Belgaum mayor used to be a Marathi-speaking person. The Shiv Sena never entered the political fray in Belgaum because it did not want to weaken the MES,” he said.

Thackeray, whose party Shiv Sena formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) with the NCP and the Congress in 2019, said a time-bound action plan is needed to win the legal battle and ensure the Marathi-speaking leadership and people in those areas of Karnataka remained united.

“Let’s take a pledge that we will not rest till we win. If the long pending issue is not resolved during this (MVA) government’s tenure, it will never be,” he said.

“In Karnataka, whichever political party’s government or Chief Minister take charge, they have one thing in common – atrocities against Marathi people and language,” he charged. – PTI