As some lesser known statehood activists under the banner of Vidarbha Joint Action Committee staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Monday,seeking a separate Vidarbha state,prominent Vidarbha MPs,barring BJPs Rajya Sabha member Ajay Sancheti,refrained from visiting the pandal.
Nagpur Congress MP Vilas Muttemwar,who had vociferously put forth the demand,Wardha MP Datta Meghe,also of the Congress,Ramtek MP Mukul Wasnik and NCP MP Praful Patel,who have been making noises in favour of a separate Vidarbha state,stayed away from the agitation.
Muttemwar said: The protesters suddenly decided to stage the dharna and told us to come there. The Parliament session began on Monday. I wanted to raise the issue there,which I did through a calling attention motion today. And then Kejriwal,who has targeted the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi,was there. How could we have gone there?
Muttemwar said the dharna looked like an exclusively Nagpur programme. There is an impression that Vidarbha agitation is only of Nagpur division. We have to strengthen the cause by involving people from all over the region, he said. Political leadership of western Vidarbha comprising Amravati revenue division has time and again expressed scepticism about Nagpur domination in the Vidarbha statehood issue.
Said Amravati Shiv Sena MP Anand Adsul: Sena will oppose Vidarbha statehood tooth and nail. Hundreds have sacrificed lives for a united Maharashtra. Also,separate Vidarbha isnt viable.
When asked if Sena will review its alliance with BJP now that Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis has started talking aggressively in favour of statehood,Adsul said: That will be decided by the party leadership.
Shiv Sena has built a good base in Amravati division with five MLAs and three MPs. Of the 19 BJP MLAs,only five are in Amravati division. One of its two MPs is in Amravati division. Congress has 24 MLAs while the NCP has only four. NCPs only MP is Praful Patel from Gondia-Bhandara in Nagpur division. Congress has four MPs,all of them in Nagpur division.
Fadnavis,meanwhile,flew to New Delhi on Tuesday to meet senior party leaders to exhort them to bring an amendment to the Telangana resolution in Parliament. I told them we have been committed to Vidarbha statehood since 1992. They were all very supportive and assured to do whatever they could for Vidarbha statehood, Fadnavis told The Indian Express.
Nitin Gadkari has even said the BJP would support a resolution for statehood if Congress that has majority brings it, he added. About statehood agitators being a divided house,he said: We are ready to work with all.
If the party could risk its alliance with Shiv Sena ahead of next years elections,Fadnavis said: We have been together with diametrically opposite views on Vidarbha statehood. I dont think there is any risk for the alliance with our pressing for statehood.
Among those on dharna in Delhi were Swatantra Bharat Paksha state chief and former MLA Wamanrao Chatap,Ashish,son of former MPCC chief Ranjit Deshmukh,Independent MLA Anil Bonde,Deepak Nilawar,former Congress MLC S Q Zama,former income tax commissioner Dhananjay Dharmik and former DGP Prabir Chakravarty.
VJAC convenor Ahmed Kadar said: We will now organise a Nagpur bandh for the cause.