Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut on Wednesday remarked that his party members will enter Karnataka the same way that China crossed into Indian territory, ANI reported.

Raut made the statement in the context of a flare-up of a decades-old border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka.

“Like China has entered, we will also enter [Karnataka]” he told reporters. “We don’t need anyone’s permission.”

Raut said that the dispute can be resolved through dialogue and accused Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai of “igniting fire” intentionally.

“This is because there is a weak government in Maharashtra, which is not taking a stand on the matter,” the Shiv Sena MP said. “If the [Maharashtra] chief minister and his deputy cannot even make their stand clear, we have to raise our voice.”

Raut, however, said that the party has no personal enmity with the citizens of Karnataka.

Later in the day, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that Raut’s statement was unacceptable, according to ANI.

“Law and order situation shouldn’t be disturbed,” he said. “The central government also wants peace to be there and he shouldn’t give such a statement.”

The dispute pertains to Maharashtra’s demand since its creation on May 1, 1960, that 865 villages, including Belgaum (now Belagavi), Karwar and Nippani, that are currently in Karnataka, should be merged with it. Karnataka, however, claims the demarcation that was carried out on linguistic lines in 1956 is final. The case is pending before the Supreme Court.

Opposition leaders in Maharashtra had criticised the state government in connection with the matter on Tuesday, the first day of the Winter Session of the state Assembly. Nationalist Congress Party leader Jayant Patil had asserted that Bommai must be “answered in his own language”.

“Marathi citizens in the border areas are being subjected to surveillance,” Patil claimed. “Marathi citizens are intentionally being harassed. We must seek answers about this. We must answer the Karnataka chief minister in his own language.”

On December 5, Bommai had urged Shinde not to send his Cabinet colleagues to Belagavi, saying that their visit could disturb law and order. Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraj Desai were slated to meet activists from the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, an organisation that has been seeking the merger of about 800 villages with Maharashtra, on December 6.

The ministers cancelled the visit citing BR Ambedkar’s death anniversary.