The supporters of separate Vidarbha led by its strong protagonist, former Maharashtra Advocate General Shreehari Aney, Sunday hoisted a ‘Vidarbha flag’ in Nagpur and said they would intensify their movement for statehood to the region.
A number of pro-Vidarbha leaders and activists gathered at a private resort in Bajaj Nagar Square in Nagpur and hoisted the specially prepared multi-colour flag as a mark of protest against the merger of the then Vidarbha, the Central Provinces and Berar into Maharashtra on May 1, 1960.
They also chanted pro-Vidarbha slogans.
Similar flags were also unfurled at about 24 other places across the Vidarbha region.
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On the occasion, Aney, whose remarks on separate Marathwada and Vidarbha recently sparked controversy leading to his resignation from AG’s post, said the flag of separate Vidarbha is being raised on May 1 for last three years.
He said this year the movement for separate Vidarbha state has gained momentum since it has been strongly opposed by the ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena, besides MNS.
“We are not apprehensive of any political party or group which is opposing the creation of Vidarbha state, but our fight will go on and it will be further intensified from day one of the commencement of winter session of state Legislature here in the second capital (of Maharashtra) in December,” he said.
“Till December, we are chalking out strategy to agitate for carving out Vidarbha from Maharashtra,” Aney said.
He declined to comment on alleged remarks by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray against him and said, “Come what may we will maintain our discipline and decency in agitation.”
Prominent members of pro-Vidarbha organisations, Vidarbha Economic Development Council (VED), Shetkari Sanghatana, Vidarbha Vikas Aghadi and other outfits also participated.
Former three-term MLA, Shetkari Sanghatana’s Wamanrao Chatap, former Minister of State and Dalit leader Sulekha Kumbhare, ex-Director General of Police Prabir Chakraborty, former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax B Dharmik, Jan Manch president advocate Anil Killor, former Vice Chancellor of Nagour University Haribhau Kedar were among those present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, the local Shiv Sena unit protested the movement for separate state and unfurling of the ‘Vidarbha flag’ by Aney.
The Shiv Sainiks, led by district president Satish Harde, gathered at HB Town in eastern part of city, raised pro-Maharashtra slogans and allegedly burnt an effigy of Aney.
The MNS, which is also opposed to creation of Vidarbha, organised a Maharashtra flag hoisting event adjacent to the Aney’s programme at Bajaj Nagar Square.
In another development, four activists of Aam Aadmi party, which has extended support to Vidarbha state, climbed an 80-feet mobile tower of a private telecom company at Akashwani Square in favour of the separate statehood demand.
Sporting white caps with pro-Vidarbha state slogans painted on it, the youths wanted to draw the attention of political leadership over demand for Vidarbha.
However, no untoward incident was reported from any part of city in view of the events in support of and against the Vidarbha statehood issue.