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Sathe, Salve quit Congress
August 17, 2003 13:46 IST
Last Updated: August 18, 2003 00:26 IST
Two senior Congress leaders and former Union ministers -- Vasant Sathe and N K P Salve -- resigned from the party on Monday and announced plans to float a regional outfit to promote the cause of a separate Vidarbha state.
"I and Salve were pained to take the decision but have resorted to it as there was no alternative before us...our efforts to persuade the Congress leadership to agree to the just demand of carving out a separate Vidarbha state out of Maharashtra has failed to yield results," Sathe told PTI over the phone from Gurgaon.
He said the formation of the Vidarbha Rajya Nirman Congress would be announced in Nagpur later in the day at Salve's residence and the new outfit would be ready to align with any party willing to support the demand for a separate state of Vidarbha.
However, Sathe said Congress would remain "our parent body and Sonia Gandhi our leader as we are forming a separate party because of technical reasons and one cannot be a member of two political parties simultaneously."
The development comes close on the heels of dissent in the Congress in adjoining Andhra Pradesh over the issue of a separate Telangana state.
In Nagpur, Salve claimed they were left with no option but to quit. He also said that the new outfit enjoys the support of former Maharashtra chief minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar.
Speaking to rediff.com in Mumbai, city Congress chief Gurudas Kamat described the development as unfortunate.
He said the party has great respect for both Sathe and Salve and that there was no need for them to quit when the Congress Working Committee at Sonia Gandhi's behest had adopted a unanimous resolution urging the Centre to set up a new states reorganisation committee to go in depth into the question of having smaller states.
Kamat said the move would have no impact on the Congress in Maharashtra and the party would continue to oppose any division of the state.
He admitted that there could be a lot of development backlog in the region, but insisted that Vidarbha's best option is to remain with Maharashtra.
Kamat also pointed out that the region has played a major role in Maharashtra's politics and produced as many as three chief ministers and they just can't absolve themselves of all blame for the region's present state.