The state assembly in Karnataka saw protests by the opposition on Monday as the winter session was set to begin in Belagavi, the contested region amid the border dispute with Maharashtra. Opposition leaders – including Siddaramaiah, the leader of opposition and former chief minister, and his party colleague DK Shivakumar among others were seen sitting outside the state assembly, staging a demonstration against the ruling Basavaraj Bommai government over the unveiling of a portrait of Veer Savarkar. The portrait was unveiled by Karnataka Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri.
“They want that our assembly proceedings should not take place. They want it disrupted. They have brought this photo because we are going to raise a lot of corruption issues against them. They don’t have any development agenda,” Karnataka Congress chief and MLA DK Shivakumar told ANI ahead of the unveiling of the poster. The Savarkar portrait has emerged as the latest issue of contention between the ruling BJP and the Congress.
On the protests, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said: Wwhat happens inside the assembly is decided by the speaker. I will talk to our leaders and the opposition as well.”
Meanwhile, the Belagavi Police was reported to have denied permission for Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti to hold their Mahamela convention amid heightened security. Large gatherings are restricted in the area in view of the assembly session.
Not just the Karnataka assembly but the state assembly in Maharashtra too witnessed protests. Several key leaders from the opposition took part in sloganeering against the Karnataka government and Chief Minister Bommai. They also criticised the ruling government in Maharashtra for not taking a stand on the border dispute.
Last week, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had met chief ministers of both the states. Ahead of the start of the session, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said that a proposal on the border dispute will be passed in the assembly.