Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Border big fight adds pressure on Karnataka CM Bommai to protect state interests

Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi, Senior Journalist

Ahead of crucial assembly elections in Karnataka, due in May next year, pressure is mounting on the ruling BJP to settle the border dispute on Belagavi as the issue begins to cast its shadow over the electoral politics.

Notwithstanding the allegations from the opposition Congress camp that the entire border dispute between the two states, controlled by the BJP, was a ‘manufactured’ one to create distraction from real issues – corruption of both the Chief Ministers Basavaraj Bommai in Karnataka and Eknath Shinde in Maharashtra, the pressure is on the BJP that it does not lose out on the issue in a region that it dominated politically for the past several years.

Which explains the very aggressive posture taken by Karnataka government and the strong chauvinistic stance that it will not cede an inch of land to Maharashtra, evoking an equal and opposite reaction from the Maharashtra counterpart, that is beginning to have an overall impact on the electorate.

Much would depend on the Congress and the ruling BJP handle the issue that is casting its shadow over state politics for the present, said Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and Vice Chancellor, Jagran Lakecity University and National Coordinator, Lokniti Network. He believes that the issue has been suddenly raked up by Maharashtra that itself is witnessing a tussle between two Shiv Sena factions and the opposition there wants to embarrass the Maharashtra government and is heating up the tempo and temperature on the issue.

Prof Shastri said that at present the pressure was more on the BJP, to retain its hold over the region where it has always done well, at a time when the Congress was going to town with the narrative that it had always handled the border situation well and had it under control as against the BJP, which was unable to protect the interests of Karnataka.

Congress leader, KPCC Chief DK Shivakumar, maintains that the issue was a settled one and the Mahajan commission recommendations are being honoured on the issue. All of a sudden the issue has flared up due to “match fixing by the Karnataka and BJP leaders, and their provocative statements.”

All governments in the past have given adequate protection to the people in the area and Kannadagias and Marathi speaking areas have been living a peaceful and harmonious life. There has been adequate representation to the Marathi speaking people in the region as well.

But, this sudden flare up is nothing else but a distraction to divert attention of the people from the massive corruption of Chief Minister Bommai, Shivakumar alleged.

All this will not be able to save the BJP and Bommai as people have already made up their mind, the Congress leader said.

(Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi is a senior journalist tracking social, economic, and political issues and takes a keen interest in sports as well. He has worked with prominent news organisations.)

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