MUMBAI: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said on Saturday that the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka was not about a piece of land, but a fight to preserve Marathi culture and language.
It was not a fight between "Pandavas and Kauravas", he said, speaking at an event in Belgaum city in Karnataka.
Since the two states came into existence, Maharashtra has been claiming Belgaum (also called Belagavi) and some other border areas in north Karnataka which have significant Marathi population.
"(In this dispute) There are Pandavas on both sides. I don't consider this to be a battle between Kauravas and Pandavas for a piece of land. It is a fight to preserve (Marathi) culture and language," he said.
The issue should have been resolved by earlier governments, the Shiv Sena leader added.
As the Supreme Court's verdict on the border dispute is awaited, "till then, instead of fighting, let's work to preserve Marathi culture and language," he said.
Though states were formed on a linguistic basis, there should not be antagonism between speakers of different languages, Raut said.
In border areas in Maharashtra such as Solapur and Latur and even in the state capital Mumbai there are many Maharashtra government-aided Kannada-medium schools, Raut said.
Kannada litterateurs and artists have contributed immensely to Marathi culture, Raut said, citing names such as vocalists Bhimsen Joshi, Gangubai Hangal and playwright- actor Girish Karnad.
Congress leader from Karnataka Mallikarjun Kharge speaks Marathi fluently, and during the government formation talks between the Congress and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Sena leaders used to speak with Kharge in Marathi, Raut said.