All pro-Vidarbha Congress leaders under the leadership of former Union ministers Vasant Sathe and NKP Salve on Saturday resolved to fight for separate statehood within the party framework.
Announcing this in Nagpur on Saturday, Sathe said a delegation of Congress leaders would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi this month.
According to him, a group of senior leaders including MPs, MLAs, ministers, former MPs and ex-MLAs agreed during a meeting that there was no point in rebelling against the party. The decision of creating a new state rests with the Congress leadership, and their cause would be better served by convincing the leadership that a new state would help increase the party’s strength in the region. None of the leaders was opposed to the idea of fighting for a separate state, said Sathe.
Besides Sathe, Salve, MPs Vilas Muttemwar, Datta Meghe, Nagpur guardian minister Shivajirao Deshmukh, ex-MP Balkrishna Wasnik, ex-MLA Ashok Dhawad, Gondia MLA Gopal Agarwal, MLC Zainuddin Jhaveri and several other leaders were present. Muttemwar, Mehe and Gadchiroli MP Marotrao Kowase had openly defied the party by joining the Vidarbha Rajya Sangharsha Samiti (VRSS) agitation.
The meeting decided that there was no point in working with the VRSS, a platform of all pro-Vidarbha organisations, where leaders like Jambuwantrao Dhote talked of seeking support of Naxalites and setting up suicide squads in support of the cause.
Economist Shrinivas Khandewale, who was also present at the meeting, said: “I told the Congress leaders that people would soon lose patience with the Congress if it continued to dither on taking a decision on Vidarbha. They would turn to any other party favourably disposed to the cause.”