The demand for separate statehood to Vidarbha is being raised once again with a renewed appeal to the Centre to concede the demand.
Pro-Vidarbha leaders, led by former Lok Sabha member Jogendra Kawade, MLA Anil Bonde, Deepak Nilawar, Kishore Singh Bais, former Lok Sabha member Jambuwantrao Dhote and senior Congress leader Tanaji Wanve, will stage a day-long dharna near RBI Square in Nagpur on Wednesday in support of the Vidarbha statehood demand.
Several leaders of Bodoland, Telangana and Bundelkhand, including Lok Sabha member Chandrashekhar Rao and Raja Bundela will participate in the dharna to extend support to the movement.
Kishore Singh and Deepak Nilawar of Federation for New States pointed out that the demand for Vidarbha statehood is over a century old and predates that of Telangana. "The union government should consider the case of Vidarbha while taking a decision on Telangana," they said.
"Vidarbha missed the bus a decade ago when new states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand were carved out. Now Telangana state is under consideration. But due to the dominance of western Maharashtra leaders who know well that their future will be bleak if a separate state is created out of eastern Maharashtra, the statehood remains a distant dream for Vidarbha," said Nilawar.
"We have decided to mount pressure on the region's elected people's representatives of ruling and opposition parties in the state legislature as well as Parliament. We have written letters seeking their support," said Nilawar.
"Federation leaders like Raja Bundela, leaders from Telangana, Bodoland, and Bundelkhand who are fighting for creation of new states will be here for the agitation on Wednesday," said Bais.
"Creation of Vidarbha state will create lakhs of new jobs and open avenues for the development of the region that has been starved of growth. Right from Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar to Justice Fazal Ali of the State Reorganization Commission supported the demand. But later, the Congress leadership developed cold feet and agreed to merging Vidarbha with Maharashtra for its own political convenience," said Tanaji Wanve, a local Congress leader who has joined the agitation.
In January 2010, the Telangana agitation became aggressive and TRS leader Chandrashekhar Rao resorted to an indefinite fast forcing Parliament to take notice of the situation in the Andhra Pradesh. Days after this, pro-Vidarbha leaders sensed an opportunity to tag on to it by starting a mass movement for Vidarbha.
The Lok Sabha member from Nagpur, Vilas Muttemwar, gave a major fillip by sitting on a daylong fast at Variety Square in Nagpur. Later, former MPCC president Ranjit Deshmukh, RPI leader Prakash Ambedkar, BJP leader and former Lok Sabha member Banwarilal Purohit, MLA Devendra Fadnavis came together to form an all-party Vidarbha Rajya Sangram Samiti to fight for the cause.
The VRSS leaders held public meetings and rallies all over Vidarbha that evoked good response. But the unity did not last long and the VRSS disintegrated.