Fillip to Vidarbha state call

Two Congress MPs from Vidarbha, Vilas Muttemwar from Nagpur and Datta Meghe from Wardha, revived the Vidarbha demand and said the region with 11 districts and three crore population, as well as huge mineral resources, qualifies for the separate statehood.

Vidarbha was earlier part of the Central Province before the state reorganisation and was merged with the first Marathi speaking state of Maharashtra in 1960. However, a pact between the then Vidarbha leaders and those leading the Samyukta Maharashtra movement stipulated that Nagpur would get the status of second capital and at least one session of the state legislature be held there.

The practice has been followed since then and every year the winter session of the state legislature is held in Nagpur, where it is currently in session.

The BJP is the only national party that has openly supported the demand for a separate Vidarbha, while its oldest ally Shiv Sena is firmly against it.

The Congress and the NCP have been following their usual strategy - of not committing to anything, and neither supporting nor opposing the demand. All that the Congress and the NCP say is that if the Maharashtra assembly passes a unanimous resolution for the separate Vidarbha state, they would not oppose it.

The development backlog of Vidarbha has been the contentious issue since three decades, which has given rise to the separate state demand. A regional development board for Vidarbha with the Governor as its ex-officio chairman has been set up in accordance with the provisions in Article 371 of the Constitution, but it has failed to remove that backlog.

Farmers’ suicide

Vidarbha has also been in focus over hundreds of suicides by farmers due to failure of cotton crop, the only major commercial crop of the region. Both the Central and the state governments announced special packages for the region, but the problem simmers.

Now, farmers have launched a campaign to consuming poison to highlight their problems. Only on Wednesday, ten farmers in Amravati district tried to consume poison publically, but the police thwarted their attempt. Nevertheless, two farmers have been reported serious after taking poison.

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