Chavan meets Sonia on Ambedkar memorial, Belgaum

December 30th, 2011 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Mumbai, Dec 30 (IANS) An all-party delegation led by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Friday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi demanding Belgaum be declared a union territory till the Supreme Court’s vereict on the long-pending Maharashtra-Karnataka boundary dispute, an official said.

The delegation also urged Gandhi to expedite the sensitive issue of the proposed Ambedkar memorial at Dadar in southcentral Mumbai for which the state has demanded allotment of 12.50 acres of Indu Mills land free of cost.

“We have put forth these demands before the Congress president and she has assured to look into the matter,” Chavan said, emerging from the meeting Friday evening.

The delegation will also call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday to formally make the two demands.

They were to meet the prime minister Friday, but this was cancelled as the delegation reached the capital late. The centre has expressed its tentative willingness to give around four acres land of the mill, situated in a prime area of southcentral Mumbai, which was rejected by all Dalit parties.

However, in a deft move, Chavan moved a resolution in the state legislature Dec 20 — which was passed unanimously — demanding that the entire Indu Mill land, currently owned by the National Textiles Corporation (NTC), be handed over free of cost for developing the Ambedkar memorial. Even on the Belgaum issue, a resolution moved by Chavan was adopted by the Maharashtra assembly Dec 16 unanimously, demanding that the disputed boundary areas be declared a ‘union territory.’

The developments came in the wake of the supercession of the Belgaum Municipal Council, ruled by the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) earlier this month, by the Sadanand Gowda-led Karnataka government, earlier this month.

Last week, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray led a MES delegation to meet President Pratibha Patil and made the same demand (declaring Belgaum and other Marathi-speaking areas of Karnataka as ‘union territory’) before her.

Incidentally, the NTC had moved the Bombay High Court seeking eviction of some Dalit party activists who have ‘captured’ and are squatting in the mill premises since Dec 6.

Following intervention by Home Minister R.R. Patil, the Dalit activists Thursday vacated the Indu Mills premises.

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