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Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Tuesday demanded the Centre to make 865 Marathi-speaking villages of Karnataka an Union Territory till the Supreme Court settles the border dispute between the two states. "The 865 Marathi-speaking villages in Karnataka should be declared as an Union Territory until the issue is settled in the Supreme Court," Chavan told the Legislative Council during a discussion on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border row. Chavan, who would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow in Delhi with an all-party delegation would make the request to him. "There is no option other than making the villages an Union Territory and we would request the prime minister to cooperate with us on the issue," Chavan said. Defending his demand for the Union Territory, Chavan said the Karnataka Government is changing the names of the villages and there is a threat to the law and order situation in the region and biased treatment are being meted out to Marathi people there. Chavan asked the Opposition BJP to intervene into the matter as the party is ruling in Karnataka.
"There is no question of backing from the Supreme Court, but your (BJP) Government is ruling there (Karnataka) and I am ready if the issue can be sorted out with consensus," Chavan said. The Centre, in reply to Maharashtra's claim over Karnataka's Marathi-speaking districts like Gulbarga and Belgaum, had told the Supreme Court last week that language can't be the only criteria for deciding state boundaries. However, the Centre's stance has led to a flurry of protests in Maharashtra as well as border areas of Karnataka, following which the Supreme Court yesterday allowed the Maharashtra government to file an amended application to challenge the validity of the State Re-organisation Act.

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