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Amid the Mayavati government’s proposal upcountry to split Uttar Pradesh into four, political parties in Maharashtra are not keen to take up the demand for statehood for Vidarbha. Instead, they are currently busy fighting the elections to the civic and local bodies set to start from next month.
The ruling Congress-NCP alliance, which is striving to tackle crisis after another, is not interested to pursue the vexed statehood issue, while the chief Opposition BJP has taken a wait-and-watch policy despite its known pro-Vidarbha stand. On the other hand, BJP’s ally, Shiv Sena, has reiterated its opposition to a Vidarbha state — and even insists that the party will do “everything” to keep Maharashtra united.
Curiously, no party seems keen to rake up the issue during the winter session of the state’s legislative assembly session beginning on December 12 in Nagpur, the state’s second capital. Nagpur (along with Amravati) is a division that falls under the belt of Vidarbha.
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee says it will abide by the recommendation of a central government-appointed committee on the matter. “As of now, we don’t plan to press for a separate Vidarbha state,” PCC president Manikrao Thakre told Business Standard. The Nationalist Congress Party says it will “honour the will” of the citizens of Vidarbha. “We’ll then go accordingly,” notes NCP state president Madhukar Pichad.
As for the BJP, it says the state government should not wait till the people of the state “go the Telengana (agitation) way”. Points out party’s Nagpur legislator Devendra Phadanvis, a close confidant of BJP national president Nitin Gadkari: “We are in favour of a Vidarbha state. Its people don’t want a violent agitation. But if the government continues to dilly-dally, they will be left with no alternative but to follow the line of pro-Telangana activists.” The ruling alliance, he claimed, was “opposed” to the statehood for Vidarbha.
The Sena sticks to its proclaimed stand. Party chief Bal Thackeray, in an editorial in mouthpiece Saamna, reiterated today that the Sena would continue to oppose a separate Vidarbha state.
Chimes in a Sena leader: “We will press for a united Maharashtra; the party will do everything for it. The people have given blood for a united Maharashtra. We will never support a demand that seeks to divide Maharashtra.”
The demand for a separate state of Vidarbha is not without its curious history. A Congress MP recalls that the Central Provinces Legislature had passed a unanimous resolution for the establishment of a Mahavidarbha state way back in October 1938. “This was quite before the much-debated agitation for a Samyukta Maharashtra launched in ’60s,” he adds.
Congress veteran Vasat Sathe, who passed away recently, and one-time minister N K P Salve had made botched attempts to lead a delegation for the constitution of a Vidarbha state. Subsequently, two years ago, an all-party bandh was organised, but no party aggressively followed the issue.