The struggle between pro-and anti-Vidarbha politicians has intensified with pro-Vidarbha outfits in the state calling for a Vidarbha-bandh on Wednesday to highlight their demands, and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray issuing a stern warning against the “conspiracy to break Maharashtra”.
Prominent leaders of all political parties, except the Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Communist Party of India have called for a Vidarbha bandh on January 20 to support the demand for statehood for the region.
The Nationalist Congress Party has also joined the agitation and extended its support to the bandh.
Thackeray made his opposition to the demand clear through an editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana on Tuesday. “Vidarbha is a part of Maharashtra and will always remain so,” the editorial, which is considered to be Thackeray’s voice, said. “The people of Maharashtra also want the development of Vidarbha and that can happen best if Vidarbha remains a part of the state.”
The editorial said the “conspiracy to break Maharashtra be stopped at all costs”.
The mouthpiece also criticised leaders elected from the region saying they did not do anything for its development. “Who is responsible for its [Vidarbha’s] development? Vidarbha has elected eminent national leaders like former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and Ghulam Nabi Azad. Why did they not do anything for its development?”
Thackeray even congratulated Chief Minister Ashok Chavan for his firm stand against a separate Vidarbha state. The editorial said though Sena’s ally, Bharatiya Janata Party, seemed to be ‘bitten by the separatist bug’, Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj’s stand on a united Maharashtra was commendable.
A statement from former Lok Sabha member and pro-Vidarbha activist, Jambuwantrao Dhote, on Tuesday, caused a flutter in Nagpur. Dhote said he would even seek the help of Naxalites to carving out a separate Vidarbha state.
Meanwhile, there was heavy police bandobast all over the region to ensure law and order.