The Vidarbha statehood issue rocked both Houses of the state legislature Friday, with the Congress-NCP calling out the BJP-Shiv Sena government on its divided stand on the sensitive subject.
The division within the ruling alliance was on full display, with the Sena asserting it would not allow the bifurcation of Maharashtra, BJP members from Vidarbha raising pro-statehood slogans in the well of the House, and senior Sena minister Diwakar Raote finally clashing with some of the members.
The uproar in the Assembly and Council was a fall-out of private member bill mooted by BJP MP Nana Patole, demanding a separate Vidarbha in the Lok Sabha.
Members of the Congress and the NCP then asked the government to clarify its stand on the matter in the state Assembly and Council. Taking the lead, Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde said, “Let us not forget that 105 martrys laid their lives for Maharashtra. We will never allow the division of Maharashtra at any cost.”
Opposition leaders Radhakrihna Vikhe-Patil, Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse Patil demanded a statement from the BJP on the issue, and also asked the Sena to explain if it would still continue in the government or walk out.
Senior council member Narayan Rane said, “The Shiv Sena’s decision to stay in the government shows its hankering for power in politics. If it was genuinely concerned about the unity of the state, it would have walked out of the BJP-led government.” BJP leaders argued that the party in principle believes in the smaller state theory for good governance. “The statehood to Vidarbha is not to divide the people or undermine Maharashtra,”a party leader said.