Bharatiya Janata Party’s newly appointed state president, Sudhir Mungantiwar, openly declared his support for a separate Vidarbha state after the inauguration of the party’s state convention at Jalgaon on Saturday.
The 48-year-old lawyer, who was named president on Friday, is a four-time legislator from Ballarpur constituency in Vidarbha.
He replaces Nitin Gadkari who was appointed the party’s national party president four months ago.
“The creation of Vidarbha is neither an emotional issue nor is it about dividing Maharashtra,” Mungantiwar said. “It is to help the weaker sections of society.”
Mungantiwar said the BJP favours a separate Vidarbha because it believes smaller states enable better administration and development.
“The party has favoured smaller states right from the time of Jan Sangh founder, late Shyama Prasad Mukherjee,” he said.
He, however, assured the gathering that the difference in opinion between the BJP and the Shiv Sena over statehood for Vidarbha will not break their political ties.
Senior party leader, Gopinath Munde, also spoke at the convention. Munde tried to boost the morale of party workers by criticising the Congress-led state government.
“In 1995, we won because all our workers were on the streets taking up burning grassroot issues,” Munde said. “We need to do that again. We need to highlight issues like price rise, security and load shedding that are troubling the people of Maharashtra.”