PM Should Clarify His Stand on Maha-Karnataka Border Row, Says Uddhav; Defends Collegium System

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Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who heads a faction of the Shiv Sena, on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify his stand on the simmering Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute.

He also defended the collegium system of appointment of judges and hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government for ”pressuring the judiciary” and trying to bring it under its thumb.

Thackeray was speaking at the inauguration of the 42nd Marathwada Sahitya Sammelan at Sant Ramdas College in Jalna district.

”PM Narendra Modi is coming to inaugurate Nagpur-Mumbai Expressway (on Sunday) and we welcome him. During his visit, he should clarify his stand on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute. The PM will have to address a host of issues plaguing the state when he comes for the inauguration of the expressway,” Thackeray said.

”He should speak about the Karnataka chief minister who is staking claim on some villages in Maharashtra,” the Shiv Sena (UBT) president said.

The border row between Maharashtra and Karnataka has heated up with incidents of violence being reported from border areas of both states.

The dispute dates back to 1957 after the reorganisation of states on linguistic lines. Maharashtra laid claim to Belagavi, which was part of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, as it has a sizeable Marathi-speaking population. It also staked claim to 814 Marathi-speaking villages which are currently part of Karnataka.

Thackeray criticised Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar for their statements against the collegium system.

Rijiju had last month said the collegium system was ”alien” to the Constitution, while Dhankhar, in his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha criticised the judiciary for scrapping the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) law, terming it as an instance of ”severe compromise of parliamentary sovereignty”.

Slamming the statements made against the collegium system, Thackeray asked that if judges can’t appoint judges, then can the prime minister choose them.

He further claimed that even after eight years, the Supreme Court is still hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the controversial decision of the Union government to demonetise currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.

”When will people who suffered due to demonetisation get justice?” he asked.

Thackeray said writers can play an important role in changing society and asking questions to the rulers.

”Writers should ask questions to the rulers. Merely holding seminars and discussions is not enough, they should come on to the streets and ask questions to the rulers for their wrongdoings,” he said.

”Freedom is at stake. Those who speak against rulers, are being sent to jail,” Thackeray added.

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