Amid protests in parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, the demand for Vidarbha State found an echo in the State legislature on Tuesday with noisy arguments and a walk-out.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been spearheading the demand, wanted a discussion on the issue in both the Assembly and the Council and it was not permitted. The BJP members walked out in protest in the Assembly after Speaker Dilip Walse Patil refused to allow a notice of adjournment on the issue.

The Shiv Sena, which is totally opposed to a separate Vidarbha, created a ruckus of another kind. The former Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Ramdas Kadam, now a member of the Council, offered to become the 106{+t}{+h} martyr for a united Maharashtra, while opposing statehood for Vidarbha.

During the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, 105 persons laid down their lives and a memorial had been erected for them at the Hutatma Chowk in Mumbai. Even the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) supported a united State.

Sudhir Mungantiwar (BJP) wanted a discussion on the issue by moving a notice for adjournment in the Assembly. He demanded that a resolution on Vidarbha be introduced in the House and there should be a vote since even the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) members and the Republican Democratic Left Front supported a separate State.

The BJP members spoke of the backwardness of the Vidarbha region and how it was consumed by agrarian distress, load shedding and a massive development backlog.

Earlier in the day, Leader of the Opposition in the Council Pandurang Phundkar and other members were among the 25 people who courted arrest as part of a Statewide jail bharo agitation in support of their demand.

Mr. Phundkar's resolution to discuss the Vidarbha issue will now come up before the Business Advisory Committee on March 26, when it will decide whether the legislature can discuss it.

Raising the issue in the Council, Mr. Phundkar said that Vidarbha was beset by problems of suicides and 18 hours of load shedding and it merited a discussion in any case. However, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said Manikrao Thakre, MLC and president, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), had raised the issue in the Statutory Development Board for Vidarbha and the issue was pending there. There was no need for a separate discussion in the Council.

Vinod Tawde, MLC, said no discussion was unacceptable and in a democracy people with different opinions should be allowed to debate.

In Nagpur, Congress MP Vilas Muttemwar, the former MP, Jambuwantrao Dhote, Prakash Ambedkar, and the former MPCC president, Ranjit Deshmukh, and others led demonstrations.

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