The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation on Saturday temporarily suspended its operations to Kolhapur in Maharashtra, which has a substantial Kannada population, in view of the ongoing border row between the two states, officials said. A few Maharashtra leaders have been demanding that the regions dominated by Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka, especially Belagavi, be merged into Maharashtra, which the pro-Kannada organisations have been opposing.
According to a senior officer in the North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation, a vehicle from Maharashtra was blackened in Belagavi which aggravated the tension between the regions.
"The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation officials had asked us if there was tension in Kolhapur and asked us not to run any buses. They too did not run any bus," the officer added.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut alleged that Marathi people residing in Karnataka's Belagavi were being victimised, and said an all-party delegation from Maharashtra should visit the city in the neighbouring state to resolve the ongoing stand-off.
He told reporters that in the last eight days there have been instances of attacks on Shiv Sena leaders and the party's office in Belagavi by pro-Kannada outfits.
"Belgaum is part of India and the Maharashtra-Karnataka dispute is a language dispute. It shouldn't be stretched too far and this is the responsibility of the Karnataka government too," he said.
In a counter to Sanjay Raut, meanwhile, Karnataka Legislative Council chairman Basvaraj Horatti on Saturday said that he would soon hold a meeting with his counterpart, Karnataka Legislative Assembly speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri, to chalk out a plan to convene a legislature session in Belagavi.
Horatti told reporters that he would soon be visiting Belagavi along with his counterpart Kageri to inspect and work out modalities to organise the session there.
"We have not held a legislative session in Belagavi since 2018 onwards due to various reasons. We need to think about organising a session there. Nothing is finalised yet, but we need to organise it there too," he said.
He added that both Houses must function systematically 60 days in a year and this year we wish to accomplish it. "We have been talking about holding 60 days session per annum but this has not come into practice for many reasons. We need more fruitful debates and discussions to take place," he said.
The Suvarna Vidhana Soudha was constructed as a part of Karnataka's reiteration of its control over Belagavi in its interstate rivalry with Maharashtra for control of the district. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has raised the issue of the merger of Belagavi and other Marathi-dominated regions with Maharashtra time and again.
While the proposal to build a legislature building in Belagavi to counter Maharashtra's claim to the area had been mooted several years ago, it was after HD Kumaraswamy became Chief Minister in 2006 that the project gained momentum.
While it was originally to have come up at Tilakwadi, it was subsequently relocated to its present location in the Halga-Bastwad area of Belagavi, just off the Bengaluru-Mumbai highway, which is a part of the Golden Quadrilateral project.
With agency inputs