UNDETERRED by the poor gathering at his maiden public meeting after resigning as the state Advocate General, Shrihari Aney, batting for Vidarbha statehood, Saturday said while he would continue to be in dialogue with the BJP and the Congress over the statehood issue, his main endeavour would be to “persuade the Centre” by creating a “pressure lobby” of parties like the AAP, BSP, RPI, JDU and TMC.
Addressing mediapersons, Aney observed that the BJP-Sena government in the state was no different from the previous governments over the statehood issue. He said, “the BJP seems to be waiting to jump in at the opportune time to stake claim but not do anything by itself. They will repeat the same drama (of statehood) again in the
The media conference was marred by Vidarbha supporters shouting down a group owing allegiance to Congress leader Mitesh Rane who tried to ask questions to Aney.
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They were made to retreat but they continued to shout slogans against Maharashtra’s division. Rane’s outfit Swabhimani Sanghatana had threatened to behead Aney for his remarks in Marathwada, when he said it should be a separate state.
Aney revealed that whenever he had sought Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s help to set up an appointment with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, he said “the Home Minister says there is no demand for statehood from the people of Vidarbha.” “I know both Gadkari and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis favour Vidarbha state but there is little they can do,” he said.
On “lack of passion or support for the cause”, Aney said, “why don’t they conduct a referendum?” He cited the example of a well-attended public rally organised by Katol BJP MLA Ashish Deshmukh later in the day. After his arrival from Mumbai for the first time after quitting as A-G, there was no spectacular reception as promised by his supporters. At a public meeting at Samvidhan Chowk, there were a little over 200 people. “I will stand and talk statehood even if there is only one man in the audience,” Aney said.
“There are many smaller parties like AAP and BSP that support Vidarbha statehood. We will take help from them when we go to Delhi for a day’s sit-in at Jantar Mantar. We will try to create a pressure lobby.” Aney, however, praised Fadnavis as “one of the most honest persons around.”
On the issue of viability, Aney asked, “Western Maharashtra leaders say Vidarbha will not have anything if it becomes a state. Actually it is the other way round…” Aney said, “considering the prioritisation in the State government’s economic agenda, Vidarbha’s priorities are unlikely to get justice. Also, where is the money in the state coffers to do anything for Vidarbha? Clearly, Vidarbha’s interest can’t be served by being part of Maharashtra.”