Even as the rest of the state celebrated Maharashtra Day, activists demanding statehood for Vidarbha observed ‘black day’ in the region on Sunday.
While agitators pelted state transport buses with stones in Yavatmal, Republican Party of India (RPI) activists led by party president Sulekha Kumbhare blocked the busy Wardha Road – disrupting traffic.
Pro-statehood supporters, led by former state advocate general Shrihari Aney, hoisted the Vidarbha flag at a private resort at Bajaj Nagar Square, Nagpur. Similar flags were unfurled at 24 places across Vidarbha.
The Union government had merged Vidarbha, the central provinces and Berar with Maharashtra on May 1, 1960, a move that still evokes resentment among residents of these regions.
Aney, whose act of demanding separate statehood for Marathwada and Vidarbha had sparked a controversy leading to his resignation from the position, said they have been raising the Vidarbha flag on May 1 for the last three years. Stating that opposition from the Shiv Sena and the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena will not affect their resolve, he said: “We are not afraid of any political party or group that opposes the creation of a Vidarbha state… Our fight will further intensify from the day the winter session of the state legislature commences in Nagpur from December. We are currently in the process of chalking out a strategy for carving out a Vidarbha state from Maharashtra.”
Aney said he will not degrade himself by commenting on certain “derogatory” remarks made by Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray regarding the movement. “Come what may, we will maintain our discipline and decency while agitating,” the former advocate general said.
A small group of Shiv Sena activists had staged a demonstration in south Nagpur earlier in the day to protest Aney’s attempts to “divide” Maharashtra.