Worried over the negative response of voters after being attacked by all political parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made no mention of creation of a separate Vidarbha state in its assembly poll manifesto released on Friday.
The move is seen as the BJP’s attempt to keep the doors open for a post-poll alliance with parties such as the Shiv Sena, which are strongly against dividing Maharashtra.
The manifesto promised all-inclusive development of the state, with major thrust on good governance, better i nfrastructure i n Mumbai and other cities, good economy, 24x7 power, industrial growth, law and order, agriculture growth and equitable social justice.
Earlier, the BJP had decided to use the statehood issue to get more seats in the Vidarbha constituency, which has 60 assembly seats. But as the four other contenders — Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and MNS — used it as a poll plank, PM Narendra Modi stated his party would not divide the state.
After Modi’s clarification, the party revised its manifesto, said a senior BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The BJP is keen on attracting voters in Vidarbha, after its split with the Sena, which is against the statehood demand. The BJP leaders in Vidarbha sought votes in the Lok Sabha polls by promising separation of the state.
The BJP’s decision, however, is expected to create more problems in a region, where it expects to gain massively.
Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar accused the party of misleading the people for electoral gains.
Pro-statehood outfits condemned the BJP’s decision and urged voters to go for NOTA option. Some said they would appeal to people to reject the Sena and other anti-Vidarbha parties.
Currently, the BJP has 19 out of 62 seats in the Vidarbha and hopes to win more than 40 now.
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari sought to justify the move. “We did not feel it necessary to have Vidarbha issue in the manifesto because we have already promised statehood [to Vidarbha]. We have made a resolution to make smaller states in our national executive and people know about it,” he said.