With the ruling dispensation at the Centre giving the go-ahead for the creation of the Telangana State, Telangana’s neighbouring Vidarbha region in Maharashtra is set to witness agitations over the long-standing demand for a separate Vidarbha.
A Vidarbha Joint Action Committee (VJAC), comprising leaders of different political parties and social organisations, formed a year ago, has decided to launch “an intense protest” to demand a separate state.
“We will sit for a day-long dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on August 5, demanding a separate Vidarbha State,” said Ashish Deshmukh, convener of the VJAC and son of former PCC chief Ranjeet Deshmukh.
Members of the VJAC have already started protesting in Nagpur and its neighbouring districts, with rasta rokos by VJAC activists being reported from many districts of Vidarbha.
According to former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Nagpur, Banwarilal Purohit, the demand for a separate Vidarbha State has been long-standing.
“It’s older than the demand of a separate Telangana. But the Central government has betrayed the people of Vidarbha by ignoring their demand,” said Mr. Purohit, who had also formed the Vidarbha Rajya Party a few years ago.
Congress MP from Nagpur Vilas Muttemwar has written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanding a separate Vidarbha.
“The proposal for creation of a separate Vidarbha State has been studied by many government appointed committees from time to time before and after Independence, including the one headed by Pranab Mukherjee. Even the State Reorganisation Commission headed by Justice Faizal Ali had considered the demand for a separate Vidarbha State and observed that it could be a self-sufficient and an economically viable State,” wrote Mr. Muttemwar.
He also blamed “the successive Western Maharashtra dominated leadership in the State” for their “indifferent attitude” towards Vidarbha due to which the region has remained neglected and has been deprived of achieving its true growth potential.
Almost all the political parties in Maharashtra, except the Shiv Sena, support the Statehood demand of Vidarbha.
“We are with the public sentiment. If the people of Vidarbha demand a separate State, we will support it” said Nawab Malik, spokesperson of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The BJP had even passed a resolution supporting a separate Vidarbha State in its National Executive meet in Bhubaneswar in 1992.
Incidentally, former BJP national president Nitin Gadkari, and current State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis come from Vidarbha.
Congress General Secretary and former union minister Mukul Wasnik, Union Heavy Industries Minister and NCP leader Prafful Patel also hail from Vidarbha.