BELAGAVI: The decades-old border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra is all set to be raked up once again in the upcoming assembly polls in Belagavi district. Being an important destination in Karnataka which abuts Maharashtra and Goa, Belagavi is readying for the polls even as the final lists of contestants is yet to be announced.
The internal turmoil in the BJP and Congress units of Belagavi may help Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi (MES) gain ground once again. The recent visit by senior politician from Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar, has helped regrouping of different factions of MES and the party has decided to take on Congress and BJP, which are still unsure about the candidates.
The four constituencies — Belagavi South, Belagavi North, Belagavi Rural and Khanapur — have always fought elections on the border dispute. This year, the regrouped MES may make use of internal disputes in other parties.
In Belagavi South, there are at least eight ticket aspirants from BJP. There are chances of revolt within the BJP if some of the aspiring leaders do not get tickets. It’s no different in Congress. Belagavi North MLA Firoz Sait had to face opposition from his party men who demanded the Congress high command not to give him a ticket.
MES, which had four to five seats in Belagavi in the 1980s, had zero seats in 1999 due to internal disputes. Moreover, the Maratha population started demanding development instead of solving border dispute.
“In late 1980s, Sharad Pawar had suggested to MES leaders to accept the Mahajan report and build a new Belagavi outside Belagavi city. But what Pawar said in a private meeting got leaked and many MES leaders, including Kiran Thakur, distanced themselves from the leader. It was the first time in three decades both Thakur and Pawar shared a dais in Belagavi last week. This has brought new hope for the MES factions,” a senior political analyst from Belagavi explained.
“We need leaders who preach linguistic harmony and think of development of the district. Belagavi has a long way to go when it comes to development. Political parties are using the sentiments of people on border and water issues, but the voters are not getting the real benefits,” added Ashok Chandargi, a senior Kannada writer and activist from Belagavi.