Leaving Maharashtra's Democratic Front government red in the face, the union government has rejected the state's claim to 865 villages with a Marathi-speaking majority in Belgaum, Gulbarga, Karwar and Bidar districts of Karnataka.
In an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court, the centre said the State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) in 1956 had considered that the ''language of the people has been one of the criteria, but not the sole criterion for the inclusion of any area in a state''.
The decision triggered celebrations across Karnataka as news of the Congress-led UPA government shutting down Maharashtra's claim spread. The reactions were predictably the reverse in Maharashtra, with the Shiv Sena quick to slam the decision.
''Maharashtra ministers who have been regularly visiting Belgaum to disturb the harmonious co-existence of Kannadigas and Marathis for many years have been given a befitting reply. The centre has now put an end to this dispute. At least now, Maharashtra leaders should put an end to creating mischief over the boundary issue,'' Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa said.
Praveen Kumari Singh, director of the ministry of home affairs, who filed affidavit as the centre's reply to Maharashtra's 2004 affidavit and its application in 2009 claiming jurisdiction over the villages, said, ''The transfer of certain areas to then Mysore (now Karnataka) was neither arbitrary nor wrong as claimed by Maharashtra.''
Claiming credit for the victory, senior Congress leader and deputy leader of the opposition in the Karnataka legislative assembly, T B Jayachandra wanted the state government to congratulate the prime minister for submitting the affidavit protecting Karnataka's interests.