Appearing unruffled over the flak his attack on Jnanpith awardee Kannada writer Chandrashekara Kambara over his "anti-Marathi" remarks has drawn in neighbouring Karnataka, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray Wednesday warned of a "backlash" in Maharashtra.
"Those ruling Karnataka should check the goondas indulging in anti-Marathi activities. Don't let a spark ignite here," Thackeray said in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana.
"Karnataka government should stop police protection to the goondas attacking Marathi. We are taking all this with restraint. However, it does not mean that this restraint stems from impotence," Thackeray said, adding "What is needed is just a flash point. Maybe those goondas aren't aware of this."
On the criticism over his attack on Kambara, Thackeray said he considers "verbal abuse by anti-Marathi goondas as his honour".
The Sena chief had recently demanded that the Jnanpith committee should take back the prestigious award from Kambara.
"Kambara has said that Marathi-speaking populace in border areas (of Karnataka) was born only to create chaos. He has also said that if Marathi people in these areas want education in Marathi medium, they should move to Maharashtra," Thackeray had said.
"On behalf of the eight crore Marathi people in Maharashtra, we are demanding that the Jnanpith committee should take back the award from him," the Sena chief said.
Thackeray reminded Kambara that lakhs of people from Karnataka were engaged in industry and business in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra.
"In fact, the Udupis control the hotel business here. What will happen if we ask all these people to return to their (native) state," he had said.
"Kambara should remember that language is nobody's enemy. Doyens like Girish Karnad, Dr Shivaram Karanth, U R Ananthamurthy, Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai Hangal have ruled over the Marathi minds," the Shiv Sena patriarch had said.
Thackeray's comments came after the Karnataka Government, angered by the "anti-Kannada acts" of some pro-Marathi councillors, slapped a show-cause notice on the Belgaum City Corporation asking it to reply in two weeks as why action should not be initiated to dissolve it.
Karnataka government has decried the "provocative" statements of the Shiv Sena supremo over Kambara, which it said had the potential to trigger tension between the two neighbouring states.