Mumbai: After the Election Commission of India expressed displeasure over his "highly provocative" remarks on Belgaum issue, Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil on Wednesday he was not against Kannada language and had gone to Belgaum to attend a "private function".
"I merely expressed views of the people from Maharashtra during a private function in Belgaum a few days ago, however, Karnataka government wrongly interpreted what I said," Patil said in the Legislative Council.
Patil`s comment came in the wake of Election Commission ticking him off for his "highly provocative" remarks, which he had made in Belgaum in poll-bound Karnataka on April 7.
In his speech, Patil had allegedly made provocative remarks while recalling the incident when the then Belgaum Mayor, Vijay Pandurang More, was attacked in Bangalore several years ago for a resolution by the civic body seeking merger of Belgaum and several other Marathi-speaking areas with Maharashtra.
The EC in its order said that Patil`s statement "prima facie" violated the Model Code of Conduct and also instructed him to bear the expenses of his visit to Belgaum, where he made the statement, if he had gone there for a personal trip.
Maharashtra has been at loggerheads with Karnataka over the status of Marathi-dominated areas in that state.
"Our struggle is not against the language, but against atrocities committed by the government on the Marathi-speaking people living there," Patil said.
He said that political parties should dissolve their differences and stand united for the cause of Marathi people living in the border region in Karnataka.
"People from border areas of Belgaum, Karvar and Dharvad should stand united. Even if 2-4 MLAs from Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) get elected in upcoming polls in Karnataka, they can pressurise that government (for their demands)," the home minister added.
An FIR has already been been filed against Patil by Karnataka Police on charge of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race or language for his speech on Belgaum issue.