Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday targeted the Centre and claimed incidents of violence amid the raging border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka cannot take place without "Delhi's support".
He also hit out at Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, saying the state appeared weak to counter such attacks.
However, Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party president Chandrashekhar Bawankule took a dim view of Raut's statements and asked the Rajya Sabha member to refrain from making "baseless and provocative comments".
Amid the rising tension between the two states over the border row, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and his Maharashtra counterpart Shinde spoke to each other over the phone on Tuesday night and agreed there should be peace and law and order should be maintained on both sides.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also spoke to Bommai on Tuesday over stone pelting on vehicles from Maharashtra entering the southern state and said he will also take up the matter with the Centre.
A Maharashtra ministerial delegation's proposed visit to Belagavi in Karnataka did not materialise on Tuesday amid the simmering tension over the boundary row, while Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation suspended bus services to the southern state citing a police advisory.
Rajya Sabha member Raut in a tweet on Wednesday targeted the central government by claiming that Marathi people and vehicles from Maharashtra cannot be attacked in Belagavi without "Delhi's support".
"Workers of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti have been arrested. The game of ending Marathi self-esteem by breaking its backbone has started. The attacks in Belagavi are part of the same conspiracy. Get up Marathas get up!" Raut said.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde says he has created a revolution, he pointed out.
"What kind of a revolution it is can be seen in the manner how the state is looking weak to counter these attacks," Raut said.
Those who quit the Shiv Sena saying they have self-respect have now decided to stay silent, he tweeted.
Later, talking to reporters, Raut said, “Declare Belagavi a Union Territory."
People are ready to go to Belagavi under the leadership of Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar, he said.
The NCP is an ally of the Shiv Sena-UBT and both the parties along with the Congress were in power in Maharashtra before their government collapsed in June this year following a rebellion led by Shinde.
Shinde later formed government with the support of the BJP.
Raut said, “We don't know what is happening? There is a BJP government at the Centre, there is a BJP government in Karnataka and also in Maharashtra."
“The ministers (Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai) have backed out (from going to Belagavi)…we will give them protection and march with them,” he said.
However, Maharashtra BJP chief Bawankule slammed Raut over his remarks and asked him to refrain from making baseless and provocative comments.
How can a government be responsible for violence which is carried out by anti-social elements? he asked.
Bawankule said vandalism of buses from Karnataka has also been reported in Maharashtra.
"Do we say the government is responsible?" the BJP leader asked.
The border issue dates back to 1957 after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.
Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency as it has a sizable Marathi-speaking population.
It also laid claim to 814 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of the southern state.
Karnataka, however, considers the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the States Reorganisation Act and the 1967 Mahajan Commission Report as final.