Basavaraj Bommai Hammers Sena’s Sanjay Raut

“If they enter like China, Karnataka would respond like the Indian soldiers,” Mr Bommai said.

Bengaluru:

Karnataka Chief Minster Basavaraj Bommai, caught in the border row with Maharashtra, ripped into Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut today, calling him a “traitor” and an “agent of China” and warning of legal action. Mr Raut, condemning what he called the “weakness” of Maharashtra’s Eknath Shinde government, had said they would “enter Karnataka like China has entered the country” — sparking controversy on multiple levels.  

“Just like how China has entered [Indian territory], we will enter [Karnataka]. We do not need anyone’s permission. We want to solve it through a discussion but the Karnataka CM is igniting a fire. There is a weak government in Maharashtra. It is not taking any stand on it,” Mr Raut had told reporters.  

More than 24 hours on, Mr Bommai exploded. If they insist on entering like China, Karnataka would respond like the Indian soldiers, he said.  

“Sanjay Raut has given a big statement. Are these people in favor of China? Do I call them agents of China? Sanjay Raut is an agent of China. He is a traitor,” Mr Bommai said in the Karnataka Assembly as he moved a resolution condemning the border dispute.  

“Sanjay Raut is spoiling the unity and integrity of the country. What should I call them if not anti-national? They keep talking such nonsense, we don’t care. Their words are not worth a penny… If they keep talking like this, we will start the process of legal action against them,” he said.

The border row had handed Team Uddhav Thackeray another handle against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. In Karnataka, it has given Mr Bommai and the ruling BJP a hook for the state elections that are due next year.  

Uddhav Thackeray has been vocal about the border row, accusing Mr Shinde of not being assertive enough. His son and the state’s former minister Aaditya Thackeray had also echoed the view.

Last week, after the two Chief Ministers met Union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi, Aaditya Thackeray said, he would like to know what Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said. “The Karnataka Chief Minister is aggressive on this issue but our Chief Minister does not want to talk about it due to fear,” he had said.  

Maharashtra had been upset over the inclusion of Marathi-speaking areas — including Belgavi, part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency — in Karnataka during the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines. It also laid claim to 814 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka.

The matter is pending in the Supreme Court.

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