With the Shiv Sena opting to go solo in the next Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections, the Centre should take immediate steps to fulfill the BJP’s “poll promise” of creating separate Vidarbha state, BJP MLA Ashish Deshmukh said here Wednesday. The Shiv Sena, which is part of the ruling NDA at the Centre and in Maharashtra government, has been opposed to the demand of statehood for Vidarbha region.
Deshmukh, son of former Maharashtra Congress chief Ranjeet Deshmukh, also said he will resign as an MLA over the issue “if need be”. Seen as a critic of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the legislator from Nagpur’s Katol assembly segment claimed he took up the Vidarbha issue with Fadnavis, but did not receive any response.
The MLA, however, said he was not questioning the chief minister’s commitment towards creation of a separate state. Deshmukh dismissed as baseless reports claiming that he is set to rejoin the Congress party. “Since the Shiv Sena has decided to go alone in the next Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Maharashtra, the BJP should go ahead with its promise of giving separate statehood to Vidarbha. The BJP should latch onto this opportunity,” Deshmukh told reporters here.
“The issue of creation of state comes under the Centre. The BJP is in power at the centre with complete majority. Hence, immediate steps should be taken to create separate Vidarbha to fulfil the promise,” he added. Deshmukh hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take “effective” steps to fulfil the promise this year itself given the general elections are due in 2019.
To a question, 43-year-old Deshmukh said he had discussed the issue with BJP chief Amit Shah as well. Shah told him that any proposal in this connection should first come from the state’s “top leadership”, Deshmukh said. Deshmukh said Vidarbha will “prosper” once separated from Maharashtra and referred to the “development” attained by neighbouring Telangana to drive his point. Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
“Vidarbha farmers are in distress due to several agrarian concerns, so are the youth there due to unemployment. Definitely, they are disappointed (with the governments) to some extent. We need a separate state like Telangana to address Vidarbha’s development backlog,” he added. Asked about his future course of action if the demand goes unheard, Deshmukh said he will take a call based on the feedback he receives from the people during his on-going ‘Vidarbha Atambal’ campaign.
Deshmukh said he is covering all 66 assembly segments in Vidarbha to reach out to farmers and the youth on the issues concerning them and seek ways to address them during the campaign. “You can’t predict what will happen tomorrow…. I will take feedback from people and take steps accordingly,” he said when asked if he will contest the next election on a BJP ticket in case the promise remains unfulfilled.
The campaign was launched on January 7 and will culminate on February 13. Deshmukh had joined the BJP in 2009.