Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify his stand on the border row between Maharashtra and Karnataka, PTI reported.

“PM [Narendra Modi] is coming to inaugurate Nagpur-Mumbai Expressway [on Sunday] and we welcome him,” Thackeray said. “The PM will have to address a host of issues plaguing the state when he comes.”

Thackeray made the remarks during the inauguration of the 42nd Marathwada Sahitya Sammelan at Sant Ramdas College in Jalna district.

The border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka dates back to the period between the 1950s and 1960s when the states were formed. Maharashtra claims that 865 villages on the border should have been merged with it, while Karnataka claims that the demarcation that was carried out on linguistic lines in 1956 is final.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition by the Maharashtra government challenging some provisions of the State Reorganisation Act, 1956, and demanding that 865 villages in the border areas be merged with it.

Recently, tensions have been high in Belagavi, a border city in Karnataka, owing to the dispute. On December 1, pro-Kannada outfits had protested in Belagavi against the alleged beating of a student for waving the Karnataka state flag during a private college festival there.

The next day, members of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, a Kannada nationalist group, threw stones at vehicles with Maharashtra registration numbers. In retaliation, workers from Thackeray’s faction of the Shiv Sena also defaced Karnataka’s state transport buses in Pune.

‘BJP pressuring the judiciary’

On Saturday, Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), also defended the collegium system of appointing judges to the Supreme Court.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government is pressuring the judiciary and trying to bring it under its thumb,” Thackeray said, according to The Hindu. “If judges can’t appoint judges, then can the prime minister choose them?”

He also criticised Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju for their statements against the collegium system.

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had told the Times Now news channel on November 26 that the collegium system is not in consonance with the Constitution. Two days later, the Supreme Court had objected to the statement.

On December 7, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar had criticised in the Rajya Sabha the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act in 2015.

The law had proposed to make judicial appointments through a body comprising of the chief justice, two senior Supreme Court judges, the law minister and two other eminent persons nominated by the chief justice, the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition.

The proposed law was to replace the collegium system, under which five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, including the chief justice, decide on the appointments and transfers of judges to the top court and the High Courts.

On December 8, the Supreme Court again reiterated that comments against the judiciary by government functionaries are not well taken.