The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came in for criticism in Maharashtra on Thursday after its Karnataka leader and Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi said that Mumbai should be declared a Union Territory.
“Earlier, we (parts of Belagavi) were part of the Mumbai region. My demand and that of the people of this region is that Mumbai should be attached to Karnataka. I further demand that the Centre ensure that Mumbai is declared a Union Territory,” Mr. Savadi reportedly said.
His statement comes a day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that the disputed border areas of Belagavi, Nipani and Karwar should be declared a Union Territory since the dispute was being heard by the Supreme Court.
“Ideally status quo must be maintained in an area where the dispute is being heard by the apex court. But the Karantaka government renamed Belgaum, gave it the status of second capitol of the State and, it holds its Assembly session there. Doesn’t it amount to disrespecting the court?” Mr. Thackeray asked on Wednesday.
Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar reacted to his Karnataka counterpart’s remarks, saying Mr. Savadi’s statement was aimed at appeasing voters and shouldn’t be given importance at all. “Mumbai is part of Maharashtra and will remain so. There is no force that will separate Mumbai from the State,” Mr. Pawar said.
Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut urged Mr. Savadi to come to Mumbai and speak to Kannada-speaking industrialists and hoteliers to know about their opinion. “There are Kannada schools and institutions in Mumbai which get support from the State government. Has the Karnataka government ever supported Marathi schools in that State?” Mr. Raut asked.
The Congress warned the BJP that disrespecting the sacrifice of 105 martyrs who had fought for a united Maharashtra would cost the party dearly. “The BJP leader’s statement exposes a sinister plan of his party. The BJP is on a mission to defame the Mumbai Police, the film industry, and now plans to separate Mumbai as a Union Territory. This will cost the BJP in Maharashtra,” Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant said.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase wanted to know whether the Maharashtra BJP endorses the statement made by Mr. Savadi. “If you (BJP) condemn Mr. Savadi’s remarks then you should reply to him at the earliest,” he said.