With the United Progressive Alliance government likely to announce a separate Telangana state on Tuesday, the call for carving out Vidarbha state out of Maharashtra has started gaining heat.
Staunch protagonist of Vidarbha state, former Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament Banwarilal Purohit, who formed a political outfit for fighting for the cause, told PTI that his party had passed a resolution in its Bhubneshwar executive committee in 1992 supporting separate Vidarbha. Now, the BJP should convince its alliance partner Shiv Sena to concede the demand, he said.
The issue (of creating separate Vidarbha) has been raised at appropriate forum many times in the past, Congress MP from Nagpur Vilas Muttemwar said. A group of pro-Vidarbha leaders, including former director general of police Prabir Chakraborty, former MLA Wamanrao Chatap along with Deepak Nilawar, Ahmed Kadar (of pro-Vidarbha group) and Ram Newle from Shetkari Sanghatana, will hold a sit-in agitation at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on August 5 to press for the demand, Chakraborty said.
Two Congress stalwarts and former Union ministers N K P Salve and Vasant Sathe (both hailing from Vidarbha) had raised the issue some years back and also sat on an indefinite strike in city. Also, the then Union Labour Minister P A Sangma, who was sent on a mission by Rajiv Gandhi to study the prospect of creating Vidarbha, had indicated positively, but some how it could not be done, a senior leader said on condition of anonymity.
An all-party bandh demanding separate Vidarbha had also been organised in the region about two years back, sources said. A prominent city-based non-government organisation, Vidarbha Economic development Council, has also strongly demanded carving out Vidarbha from Maharashtra.
During the last 50 years, Maharashtra "failed to develop Vidarbha region" and, therefore, under article 371 (2) of the Constitution of India, to remove regional imbalance the Statutory Development Board was set up, VED chairman Devendra Parekh said.
The board failed to correct the imbalance, as is evident from the HR Index, per capita income table and gross district product table, published by GoM in its annual survey of state economy in 2009, it said.
Since the constitutional remedy has failed in bringing economic development in Vidarbha, making it a separate state is the only solution and the demand is more than justified, he said.
Vidarbha presently produces 4,500 MW power and another 10,000 MW is in the pipeline. The surplus power can be converted into a multi-crore advantage since the region's own consumption is 2,000 MW, Parekh said.
Situated in central India and eastern region of Maharashtra state, Vidarbha consists of 11 districts, including Nagpur, Amravati, Akola, Wardha, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondia and Bhandara, Buldhana and Yavatmal.
The region's largest city Nagpur is famous for orange and cotton cultivation.
Vidarbha holds two-thirds of Maharashtra's mineral resources, three quarters of its forest resources, and is a net producer of power. Though rich in minerals, coal, forests and mountains, this region has been underdeveloped and has seen a spurt in suicides by thousands of farmers in the last decade owing to poor living conditions.