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‘Maharashtra leaders making merger statements with an eye on elections’

‘Belagavi is an integral part of the State and it will remain so till there are stars in the sky’

“Maharashtra leaders keep making false promises on merging Belagavi and other parts of Karnataka with Maharashtra. Such statements are made purely for political gains. We should not take them seriously. They should be completely ignored,” Cooperation Minister S.T. Somashekar said in Belagavi on Wednesday.

He was reacting to remarks made by Maharashtra Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar that the Maharashtra government would definitely absorb Marathi-speaking parts of Belagavi, Bidar and Uttara Kannada districts into Maharashtra.

Speaking at the death anniversary of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray in Mumbai on Tuesday, Mr. Pawar said that it was the dream of Bal Thackeray to add all Marathi-speaking areas in the neighbouring States to Maharashtra and that the coalition government in Maharashtra would fulfil it soon. “Bal Thackeray dreamt of Belagavi city, Nippani and some villages from Belagavi district, Karwar and other towns and some villages from Uttara Kannada district and Aurad, Bhalki and Bidar from Bidar district being merged with Maharashtra. We are taking all steps to make sure that his dream comes true soon,” Mr. Pawar said.

To this, Mr. Somashekar said that Maharashtra leaders are making such statements with an eye on elections. “I am sure there is some election or byelection there. That is why such false promises are being made. There is no need to attach any seriousness to them. They should be completely ignored,” Mr. Somashekar added.

He was here to participate in the all India Cooperative Federation Conference.

Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi said that Belagavi was an integral part of the State and it would remain so till there were stars in the sky.

“We have read news reports about such statements by some Maharashtra leaders. We reiterate that Belagavi is ours and no one can change the situation,” he said.

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