Mumbai: An outfit seeking statehood for Vidarbha region on Tuesday criticised the BJP-led governments in Maharashtra and at the Centre for not showing "political will" to resolve the decades-long issue and gave them a deadline of January 1 to meet its demand.
Vidarbha Rajya Andolan Samiti (VRAS) said the "backward region" in eastern Maharashtra can achieve all-around development only when it is granted statehood which will allow it to take decisions independently.
Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Wamanrao Chatap, a member of the core committee of VRAS, said, "We strongly believe the overall development of Vidarbha is only possible when it is made a separate state."
"Unless elected leaders of Vidarbha get full authority to take decisions on utilising resources of the region and creating new opportunities, issues like farmers suicides can't be resolved.
"We are not against Maharashtra or its leadership but we want freedom of decision-making by focusing only on development of Vidarbha, which is experiencing neglect of more than half a century," said the former MLA.
He said the Samiti has organised a mock session of 'Vidarbha Assembly' on October 3 and 4 at Vasantrao Deshpande Hall in Nagpur. "We will highlight the revenue model of a separate Vidarbha in the mock Assembly, where the Budget for 'Vidarbha State' will be tabled and discussed." History stands testimony to the fact that whenever a state has been formed, its growth in terms of GDP has been far better than the mother state, the VRAS leader maintained.
VRAS has demanded that issue of granting statehood to the region, comprising 11 districts, which is famous for growing oranges and cotton, be resolved by January 1, 2017.
The central and the state government lack "political will" to resolve the issue, the Samiti leader alleged.
"If the governments (at the Centre and in Maharashtra) do not pay serious attention to our demand before January 1, the people from all the walks of life in Vidarbha would come out on the streets and launch an agitation," he said.
Chatap claimed it was very unfortunate Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who belongs to Vidarbha, was "not interested" in giving statehood to the region.
"BJP fought the election on separate Vidarbha issue. It gave a Chief Minister who hails from Vidarbha, but neither BJP nor Fadnavis has shown any interest to resolve the issue. The party is running its government with the support of Shiv Sena, which is vehemently opposing statehood for Vidarbha," he alleged.
The press conference was allegedly briefly disrupted by members of Raj Thackeray-led MNS, which is vehemently opposed to any division of Maharashtra.
Terming MNS' protest as "undemocratic", Chatap said everyone has right to express his or her views."...