Thursday, Mar 06, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
In his reply in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Mr. Krishna, who received overwhelming support even from the Opposition benches in the matter, said the Government had constituted a committee of legal experts to prepare the brief. Further, an order had been issued to appoint a high-ranking official to coordinate the matter.
In the morning, Mr. Krishna called on the former Chief Justice of India, M.N. Venkatachalaiah, and senior advocate, H.B. Datar, to discuss the steps to be taken in case Maharashtra preferred a petition in the apex court. Mr. Datar argued the State's case before the Mahajan Commission, which went into the issue in the 1960s.
The matter was raised in the Legislative Council by the Opposition leaders, K.H. Srinivasa and M.C. Nanaiah, who told the Chief Minister that, if need be, he could have in camera sittings with the principal leaders of the Opposition parties in the matter.
Referring to the manner in which Maharashtra was attempting to raise the issue, Mr. Krishna said barring political considerations, there appeared to be no reason for raising the issue again, more so when the matter was deemed closed. "Why rake up the issue now and what are the compulsions now?" While the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, had reopened the issue, the present Chief Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, was toeing the same line.
Mr. Krishna said the Government was committed to upholding an earlier resolution of the two Houses of the Legislature seeking implementation of the Mahajan Commission report or, in the alternative, maintaining status quo in the matter. "My hands are tied and I cannot involve myself in any kind of negotiation. The Prime Minister suggested that there can be a discussion (based on a representation made to him by Maharashtra) and I have told him that without the assent of the Legislature, I cannot participate in any such talks. I also told him that we should not be opening the Pandora's box now. The Prime Minister has understood the gravity of the matter," he said.
Mr. Krishna, apart from recalling the editorials by several national newspapers on the issue, including the one published in The Hindu in October 1967, said that in 1986, the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, said "we cannot go on reopening the issue. If we do reopen, there will be no sanctity for the institutions that we have set up (Mahajan Commission)." Rajiv Gandhi made the statement in the light of the then Congress leader, Sharad Pawar, stating that he would stage a dharna in Belgaum over the border row. The then Chief Minister of the State, Ramakrishna Hegde, wholeheartedly welcomed the statement of Rajiv Gandhi.
Mr. Krishna said it would be rather hypothetical to guess what would happen if Maharashtra moved the apex court, nor "do we have the strength to prevent them from approaching the court." However, we have been keeping a watch on the developments. It is not that Maharashtra has fresh evidence to strengthen its claims. All the papers are already there."
Mr. Krishna said the recommendations of the former Chairman of the Border Area Committee, Vatal Nagaraj, and the former Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, Baragur Ramachandrappa, would be implemented. The Government was aware of the difficulties faced by the people in the border areas and it would redress their grievances.
Mr. Krishna thanked the Maharashtra Chief Minister for releasing 1.5 tmcft of water from the Koyna Dam for drinking purposes in the border regions of the State. Maharashtra started releasing water on Tuesday.
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