Why are two Indian states fighting over a district?

Protest over the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka at Hirebagewadi, Belagavi.   (Photo: PTI)
Protest over the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka at Hirebagewadi, Belagavi. (Photo: PTI)


With no acceptable political solution, the matter of Maharashtra and Karnataka border dispute is now before the Supreme Court

The border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka has simmered ever since the two states were created. With no acceptable political solution, the matter is now before the Supreme Court. Mint explains the recent flare-up.

What is the border dispute all about?

After Independence, states were reorganized on linguistic basis. Ever since Maharashtra was created on 1 May 1960, it has claimed that 865 villages, including Belgaum (now Belagavi), where the majority of people speak Marathi, be merged with it. Belagavi’s civic body, over the years, has also passed many resolutions seeking merger with Maharashtra. The town, which is at the heart of the dispute, becomes the seat of power when Karnataka Assembly holds its winter session every year for 10 days. This riles those who want to join Maharashtra. The session is currently on amid high security.

You might also like 

'Bid to sully India’s tag as pharmacy of the world'

'EVs won’t need sops once market share surges'

2023 brings hope for FMCG companies

What is behind the latest flaring-up?

Recently, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde announced that the state’s pension scheme for freedom fighters will be applicable to those in the Marathi-speaking border villages in Karnataka. Basavaraj Bommai, chief minister of Karnataka, reacted by announcing grants to all Kannada schools in Maharashtra. He also staked claim for border villages in the Sangli and Solapur districts of the neighbouring state. These actions triggered a war of words, ending in violence. Interestingly, all this happened days before the Supreme Court hears the case pertaining to the border dispute.

What efforts have been made to resolve it?

In 1966, at Maharashtra’s insistence, the Centre formed the Justice Meher Chand Mahajan commission, which rejected the state’s claim over Belagavi, but listed 246 villages to be part of Maharashtra and 247 to be part of Karnataka. Maharashtra rejected the recommendations while Karnataka accepted them. In 2004, Maharashtra took the dispute to the Supreme Court.

What is the Centre’s stand on the issue?

On 14 December, Union home minister Amit Shah met chief ministers of both states and asked them not to demand any territory till the SC verdict on the dispute. He also said that the border row cannot be resolved on the streets but can be addressed only through constitutional means. He appealed to the political parties to not precipitate the issue by making provocative statements. The home minister also called for setting up a six-member ministerial panel to look into the problem for a possible out-of-court settlement.

What is the way forward?

The border dispute is politically sensitive in both the states. Political parties in Maharashtra, despite their ideological and other differences, are united in their stand that Belagavi and other Marathi-speaking villages should become part of their state. Karnataka, which is going to polls next year, considers the dispute settled based on the recommendations of the Mahajan committee. Under these circumstances, a political solution appears far-fetched—a legal remedy is the only way out.

Elsewhere in Mint

In Opinion, Rajani Sinha explains five key trends that will impact India's economy in 2023. Will ChatGPT replace Google? Jaspreet Bindra answers. Rajiv Gupta says surviving a ‘lala company’ is hard but not impossible. Long Story checks the lie of the land as the market booms.


Catch all the Politics News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.



Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App