Amid the border row around Maharashtra, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday emphasized the role of Marathas in nation building and stressed on respecting the diverse cultural and religious sentiments that unite the country.
The Chief Minister said that Karnataka is living like a local Kannadigas who speak different languages and live harmoniously in the State. “This (Maratha) community has been in Karnataka for hundreds of years. The community has embraced the land, water, culture and language of Karnataka,” Bommai said after laying the foundation stone of Maratha Bhavan in Shiggaon constituency of Haveri district.
“Like any other citizen here, the proud Kannadigas are also second to none. There are very old cultural relations with the Marathas, which have grown over a period of time, we should respect them,” said Bommai. He pointed out that Kannadigas are present all over the country, including in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. They mingled with the local people and became an integral part.
The Chief Minister stated that there are people in Karnataka who speak Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Odiya, Assamese, Hindi and Rajasthani. However, they live like any other Kannadigas in complete harmony. “These cultural and religious aspects unite India. It is important to protect it for its unity and integrity,” Bommai said.
He said the country is a democratic nation where there are hundreds of languages, various castes and communities.
This federal and democratic India with so many categories is successful because of the Constitution gifted to the people by Baba Saheb Ambedkar, said Bommai. By giving everyone equal rights, by encouraging the freedom to explore options and brotherhood between people, this Constitution has managed to unite this country, he added.
Expressing gratitude to Dr. Ambedkar, Bommai said that he (Ambedkar) put aside the humiliations and atrocities he faced in life and gave the Constitution keeping in mind the nation and the sentiments of its people. “A country is not just a road or a building. A country is about people, their culture and character. It was with this in mind that Baba Saheb Ambedkar framed this Constitution,” the Chief Minister said.
Bommai also commemorated the contribution of the 17th century Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj in establishing the Hindu dynasty. “Shivaji Maharaj’s role in protecting society and religion was immense. He belonged to the entire country and everyone feels proud of him,” he told the gathering.
Bommai said the Karnataka government has released a grant of Rs 100 crore for the Maratha Development Corporation and outlined programs that include scholarship funds for students who want to study abroad, self-employment loans and irrigation schemes for community farmers. .
The chief minister’s remarks came at a time when Maharashtra and Karnataka have blocked their horns over a border dispute involving Belagavi. Ahead of the Karnataka Belagavi legislative session, Maharashtra had requested to merge Belagavi with itself as the district has a large Marathi population. But, Karnataka rejected the request saying that the border issue has been resolved long ago.
Amidst the war of words between Karnataka and Maharashtra leaders, the Karnataka Assembly passed a resolution on 22 December. “There is no compromise on the issues of land, water, language and Kannadigas interests in Karnataka. The sentiments of the people of Karnataka and the members (of the Assembly) are united on this issue, and if it were to work, we would all undertake to take constitutional and legal measures together to protect the interests of the State.
Condemning the boundary unnecessarily created by Maharashtra, this House unanimously passed a resolution pledging to protect the interests of the State, the resolution said.