A health scheme triggers Karnataka-Maharashtra row

The issue could not have come at a worse time for the BJP government in Karnataka that is under attack from the Congress

Basavaraj Bommai,
Maharashtra’s decision to extend a health scheme to Karnataka’s border region has triggered a row between the two states. A file photo of Bommai.

Maharashtra’s sudden decision to extend a health scheme to Marathi-speakers living in Karnataka’s border region has triggered an ugly row between the two states, casting a shadow on assembly elections in the latter.

The confrontation could not have come at a worse time for the BJP government in Karnataka that has now come under attack from an aggressive Congress in the southern state.

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Karnataka Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai has lambasted the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra and called its move a threat to the federal system. He demanded an immediate revocation of the order.

Unfortunately for him, Maharashtra seems to be in no mood to relent.

Siddaramaiah reacts

Predictably, opposition leader Siddaramaiah said: “Despite strong opposition from Kannadigas, Maharashtra’s move to provide health insurance to 865 villages within the Karnataka border is brazen. This cannot be tolerated.

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“The Chief Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah had assured that the Maharashtra health insurance scheme will not be allowed to be implemented in Karnataka. When the Maharashtra government tried to implement it earlier within our state, we opposed it. Bommai spoke brave words then. Now is the time to show that passion and commitment,” he said.

Siddaramaiah also sought the resignation of Bommai over the issue.

Maharashtra on Monday announced an additional allocation of Rs 54 crore for the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Jan Arogya Yojana so that its benefits can be extended to the border villages in Karnataka.

Also read: Maharashtra extends health scheme to 865 villages in Karnataka amid border row

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the scheme in the state budget, which benefits Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka.

Health scheme

The Maharashtra notification includes 865 villages from 12 tehsils in Karnataka’s Belagavi, Karwar, Kalaburagi and Bidar districts, creating tension between the two states.

In December 2022 too, Maharashtra sought to merge 800 odd villages of Beagavai district. In retaliation, the Karnataka government raised the issue of 53 villages of Sangli and Solapur districts to be merged in Karnataka.

Later, Chief Minister Shinde decided to send two Maharashtra ministers to Belagavi to address the border issue with the leaders of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (EMS) leaders.

Karnataka told the ministers not to make the visit.

Amit Shah

Later, Amit Shah met the two chief ministers and asked them to maintain the status quo until the Supreme Court gives its verdict on the border dispute.

Accusing Maharashtra of creating confusion, Bommai has threatened to extend insurance coverage to Kannadigas living in Maharashtra if the Shinde government continued with its “autocratic behaviour”.

He said the Maharashtra decision disturbed “the peaceful relationship among two states”.

The Maharashtra government, he said, must immediately revoke its orders and respect the commitment given to Amit Shah.

Bommai said it was highly condemnable that in the name of insurance coverage, Maharashtra was collecting letters from Marathi-speaking people in Karnataka that they belonged to Maharashtra.