While welcoming talks between Home Minister Amit Shah and the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Karnataka over the border dispute between the two States, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) questioned claims made by Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde that provocative tweets made in the name of Karnataka Chief Minister claiming some areas of Maharashtra were not actually posted by CM Basavaraj Bommai.
Maharashtra Leader of Opposition and senior National Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar demanded that Centre probe the alleged “mastermind” behind the ‘fake’ Twitter accounts which aggravated tensions over the border dispute.
“Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai triggered this controversy for no reason. Had he not made remarks about his State claiming parts of Maharashtra, then vehicles from Maharashtra and Karnataka would not have been defaced and the Marathi-speaking people would have not faced harassment. The atmosphere would not have deteriorated,” Mr. Pawar remarked.
He further said that Mr. Bommai’s statements had created a situation where there was a growing feeling among villages in border districts (like Sangli’s Jat tehsil) that if the State government did not help them develop, then they would leave Maharashtra for Karnataka.
In late November, Mr. Bommai had stirred controversy after first remarking (on Twitter) that his BJP government was “seriously considering” a resolution to include Jat taluk in western Maharashtra’s Sangli district in Karnataka.
Following this, Mr. Bommai upped the ante by stating that Solapur city and Akkalkot (in Solapur district) ought to part of Karnataka as well.
Referring to claims that the controversial tweets were not posted by Mr. Bommai but presumably originated from a ‘phoney account‘, NCP MP Supriya Sule questioned how was it possible that the Twitter handle (presumably the Karnataka CM’s) had a ‘blue tick’ (verified account) on it if it was indeed fake.
Likewise, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut dismissed the suggestions of the Karnataka CM’s tweets emanating from a fake handle, remarking: “Did he [Mr. Bommai] realise just now that it was a fake Twitter account? It is strange that he has realised this only after meeting Amit Shah in Delhi…Yet, we welcome the fact that the two CMs of the respective governments have met.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ajit Pawar demanded that senior lawyer Harish Salve be engaged to represent Maharashtra in the case before the Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, Mr. Shah had asked Mr. Shinde and Mr. Bommai to set up a six-member joint ministerial panel to deal with the dispute and not make any further claims till the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on the border dispute.