Terming the registration of FIR against Home Minister R R Patil by Karnataka police as "wrong", Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday said he would speak to his counterpart from the neighbouring state and request him to drop the charges.
Chavan was intervening in an impromptu debate in the Legislative Assembly in Mumbai initiated by Labour Minister Hassan Mushrif, condemning the Karnataka government on booking Patil for his alleged provocative speech on the Belgaum issue.
He said the action taken by Karnataka police was wrong. Chavan added that he would speak to the Karnakata chief minister and request him to drop the charges against Patil.
“If the legislature wishes, I am not averse to meeting the prime minister again, leading an all-party delegation on the boundary dispute," he told the House.
The FIR was filed against Patil on April 10 by Karnataka police for promoting enmity between different groups through his speech on Belgaum, a region that is the bone of contention between the two states.
According to Karnataka police, the FIR was filed for "provocative utterances" by Patil at a function organised in Bangalore to celebrate the birthday of Kiran Thakur, leader of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi and the editor of Marathi daily Tarun Bharat.
The FIR was registered under Sections 153(A) of the Indian Penal Code, for provoking and creating disharmony between communities on the basis of religion, race, place of birth and language under the Representation of People Act.
Mushrif said the Karnataka government has suppressed the voice of the Marathi-speaking people in 765 border villages, including Belgaum and Karwar.
Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai said the FIR was not just an insult for R R Patil but for the entire state.
"We will not tolerate this. We should meet the prime minister again and reiterate our demand -- that the disputed areas be declared as a Union territory till the Supreme Court settles the issue," he said.
Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse expressed full support for the struggle of Marathi-speaking people in the border areas and the demand for declaring the disputed areas as a Union territory till the apex court resolves the issue.
Public Works Department Minister Chhagan Bhujbal claimed that filing false cases against Marathi leaders is not a new phenomenon in Belgaum.
"Attempts have been made earlier as well to suppress the voice of the Marathi-speaking people," he said.
Earlier, members in the Legislative Council condemned the FIR against Patil and demanded that a censure motion be moved against the Karnataka government.