The decades-old boundary dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra over Belagavi has again flared up as both the State governments are readying for a legal battle.
On Monday, the Eknath Shinde government in Maharashtra appointed two ministers to coordinate with the legal team regarding the court case on the dispute that is set to come up in the Supreme Court.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the state, too, deployed a battery of lawyers, including Mukul Rohatgi and Shyam Diwan, to fight its case.
The dispute dates back to the 1960s after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines.
Maharashtra laid claim on Belagavi, earlier known as Belgaum, which was part of the Bombay Presidency at the time of independence, on linguistic grounds.
Belagavi bordering Maharashtra has a significant population of Marathi-speaking people, and has for decades been a bone of contention between the two States.
Karnataka repeatedly maintained that the Mahajan Commission report on the border issue is final, and, 'there is no question of letting go even an inch of Karnataka's border'.
Bommai reiterated this week that there is no example to show that what had been done under the States Reorganisation Act that was reviewed.
"The border dispute is a political tool used by all parties in Maharashtra. But they will never succeed," he had said, adding that Maharashtra's plea has not found maintainability in all these years and the State is prepared to argue that it is not maintainable.
Shinde said earlier this week: "Late Balasaheb Thackeray was always a supporter of the State's demand to make Belgaum a part of Maharashtra. We have concentrated our focus on solving the issue. If required, the number of lawyers will be increased."
Karnataka has sought to make Belagavi a second power centre after Bengaluru. The government constructed the 'Suvarna Vidhana Soudha' in this town bordering Maharashtra and held winter sessions of the State Legislature there from 2012.
The Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) and pro-Marathi groups have for decades been fighting for inclusion of Belagavi and Marathi-speaking villages of the region with the western State.