Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday condemned the removal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's statue in Belgaum district of Karnataka and said all parties should come together to protest against the incident under the leadership of Maharashtra BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.
Belgaum (or Belagavi) district of Karnataka, which has a sizable Marathi-speaking population, is the subject of a protracted boundary dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Talking to reporters, Raut said, "Fadnavis should be taken into confidence over the issue and we all should unite under his leadership to protest against the action of the Belgaum police."
The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had on Saturday shot off a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, seeking reinstatement of the statue of the legendary Maratha warrior king.
State minister Eknath Shinde, who is a close aide of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had written the letter to Karnataka, where the BJP is in power.
Shinde, the minister in-charge for coordination on Maharashtra-Karnataka border issue, had said that the statue was removed at Mangutti village. He had said that the statue had been installed with the permission of the gram panchayat, but the administration removed it deliberately.
Shiv Sena workers in Maharashtra's Kolhapur district that borders Karnataka had held a series of protests over the issue on Saturday. The Maharashtra-Karnataka boundary dispute is pending before the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Ashish Shelar alleged that the local Congress MLA was responsible for the removal of the statue. "We condemn the incident of removal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's statue. It should be restored with full respect. But will the Shiv Sena protest against the local Congress MLA, who ordered the removal of the statue?" he asked.
Sena shares power with Congress and NCP in Maharashtra.