The demand for a separate Vidarbha state out of Maharashtra is gaining momentum, as the supporters of the region have called a Vidarbha bandh on January 20.
Barring the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, almost all political parties have expressed their support for a separate Vidarbha.
Incidentally, the ruling Congress party has expressed shock over the support shown by senior party MPs Vilas Muttemwar and Datta Meghe for Vidarbha. The minister for animal husbandry and dairy development, Nitin Raut, has already offered to resign from the state cabinet on this issue.
The state Congress unit, though in favour of a separate Vidarbha state, has not taken any offical stand on Vidarbha. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had reiterated that he would abide by the party high command in this regard. During a function on January 6 in Nagpur, Chavan had faced the wrath of Vidarbha supporters.
Muttemwar had fired the salvo against Chavan by terming him “anti-Vidarbha”. Muttemwar, a former minister of state in the Union Cabinet during 2004-09, is close to former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. The rift between Chavan and Deshmukh is widening day by day.
Further, Meghe, who was elected from the Wardha constituency on a Congress ticket after quitting the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has argued that the time was ripe for creating a separate state. The NCP, which is the Congress’ ruling partner in Maharashtra, is favouring a Vidarbha state.
The BJP, which is now headed by a Nitin Gadkari, who hails from Nagpur, also supports the Vidarbha statehood issue.
However, BJP’s over two decade ally, the Shiv Sena is quite opposed to the division of Maharashtra. The Sena chief Bal Thackeray and his son Uddhav Thackeray, who is the executive president of the party, have warned that a Sena style agitation would be launched for united Maharashtra. Similarly, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena headed by Raj Thackeray, who left Shiv Sena three years ago, has also opposed Vidarbha state.