The movement demanding statehood for Vidarbha gained further momentum on Sunday when two Lok Sabha members from the ruling Congress -- Vilas Muttemwar and Datta Meghe -- staged a day-long dharna at the Gandhi statue and vowed to fight for the issue till its logical end.
Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, Nitin Raut, who participated in the agitation, announced that he would not hesitate to resign from the ministership if such situation arises for the cause of the movement.
Addressing the gathering, Muttemwar asserted that there was no alternative, but a separate state, for the overall development of the backward Vidarbha region. “The neighbouring Chhattisgarh was more backward than Vidarbha region before it became a state. But look how it has developed after becoming a separate state,” he pointed out.
Muttemwar had already met the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on the issue and wrote a letter in support of the demand to the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Once the stormy petrel of Vidarbha movement, the former Lok Sabha member, Jambuwantrao Dhote also participated in the dharna and extended his support in the agitation. He accompanied former Maharashtra minister Nanabhau Embadwar.
The Congress Lok Sabha member from Wardha, Meghe said that the politicians from western Maharashtra had neglected development in the region. “Vidarbha’s natural resources are being exploited to the hilt and there is a large scale unemployment and backwardness. It is high time we carve out the new state,” he said.
The Lok Sabha member also insisted for a consensus among politicians from the region on the issue. The Congress legislators, SQ Zama, Dinanath Padole, the city Congress president, Jaiprakash Gupta, the former vice chancellor of Nagpur University, Haribhau Naik and a large number of politicians participated in the agitation.
Meanwhile, the senior RPI leader and grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Prakash Ambedkar, convened an all-party meeting here on January 4 to discuss the issue and chalk out the future strategies on the matter.