Hours after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) gave its nod to a separate Telangana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh,the demand for Vidarbha statehood seemed to gain a fresh momentum here on Tuesday.
Both Congress and BJP MLAs demanded that a separate state of Vidarbha be carved out of Maharashtra to give greater justice to the people in the cotton-growing belt.
Former Union minister and Congress MP from Nagpur,Vilas Muttemwar,shot off a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi,asking her to consider the long-standing demand and warning of violent agitations if it is not considered.
The letter,written on July 29,traces the historical background of the statehood demand right since the merger of the region carved out of the erstwhile CP and Berar with Maharashtra in 1090 to recommendations by many commissions favouring statehood for the region.
The regions great potentialities have remained untapped by Central and state governments leading to frustration among its people. Lukewarm and step-motherly response of the authorities has kept the region backward in all spheres, Muttemwar says,accusing the western Maharashtra-dominated state leadership of neglecting the region.
In Mumbai,state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said,The BJP has always advocated the policy of smaller states for good governance. We are in favour of a separate Vidarbha.
The issue of smaller states is not confined to any individual leadership or state. It is a part of BJPs central policy to seek smaller states, said Fadnavis,who has been raising the Vidarbha demand for two decades.
However,BJP finds itself in a spot since it old ally Shiv Sena is fiercely opposed to the division of Maharashtra. Sena chief late Bal Thackeray had staunchly opposed any bifurcation of Maharashtra. Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has followed his fathers line.
Congress also finds itself in a dilemma as it believes creation of a separate state of Vidarbha could work to BJPs advantage in Maharashtra.
Although none of the Congress ministers in Maharashtra are willing to take a categorical position on the issue,they admit public sentiments are not so strong for a separate state of Vidarbha as was the case with Telangana.
However,supporters of Vidarbha in Congress and BJP believe that the development in the cotton hub will be faster if a separate state is created.
Fadnavis highlights how despite being the leading region in power generation,Vidarbha has always faced severe power shortages.
Notwithstanding the statehood demand,there is unanimity amongst members of all political parties,including Shiv Sena,that Vidarbha has long been neglected by the state leadership,which has always been dominated by leaders from western Maharashtra.
Whether it is portfolio allocations or budgets,we have always got a raw deal vis-a-vis politicians representing the western Maharashtra and Marathwada region, say
ministers from the Vidarbha region.