The wide spectrum issues concerning Vidarbha finally got under sharp focus with Legislative Assembly taking up the discussion and members of almost all parties raising one or the other point of interest during the Winter Session being held in Second Capital City of Nagpur.
However, the discussion began on a conflicting note when Dilip Walse Patil pointed out absence of key ministers and many members. But the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs asked the Opposition members to initiate the discussion. All points are being noted down and the Government will reply to each and every issue. On this, NCP leader Ajit Pawar said at least Ministers of State should be present in the House if Cabinet Ministers are absent. If quorum is not completed then we will not participate in the discussion. Saying this, Pawar and other NCP members staged a walkout. Taking the situation seriously, the Speaker Haribhau Bagde adjourned the House for 15 minutes. The House assembled again at 11.20 am.
Ajit Pawar’s threat of boycotting the discussion worked. One by one the Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, Industries Minister Subhash Desai, Minister Sunil Deshmukh along with MLAs Dr Ashish Deshmukh, Sudhakar Deshmukh and other members started arriving in the House. Opposition benches too were empty. Sunil Kedar, Patangrao Kadam, Balasaheb Thorat, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil, and few other members were seated in patches. Most importantly, out of 62 Vidarbha MLAs only ten were present for the discussion on Vidarbha issues. The situation put the question mark on region’s development. The separate Vidarbha would never see the sunlight. The development projects of Nagpur such as Software Park, Cargo Hub, MIHAN etc would not go beyond the snail’s speed.
At 11.02 am, the discussion on Vidarbha got off to a start. Bacchu Kadu said that in these years Vidarbha has received only the backlog and suicides. The State reeling under Ts 3 lakh crore debt. Vidarbha’s backlog is climbing year after year. Out of Rs lakh crore debt, how much amount was given or spent in backward Vidarbha, Marathwada and Konkan in the past 10 years. The report should be made public.
Dr Anil Bonde said that Nagpur’s oranges are famous. Orange is multipurpose. But unfortunately, the orange was never advertised. A wide publicity can fetch more demand and good price for oranges. All the MLAs should be sensitive toward Vidarbha and its problems. However, when Dr Bonde was speaking, Ajit Pwara raised the issue of abstention of Chief Minister, Finance Minister, Energy Minister and other ministers. Jayant Patil said the BJP has 44 MLAs from Vidarbha. The ministers should be present at least for listening their views. The listed Presiding Officer asked the Government to show seriousness during discussion on Vidarbha. The Opposition has raised Government’s inactiveness thrice.
Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said that Vidarbha suffered from physical backlog. Dairy profession needs to be promoted here. Orange processing industries should be started. A lot of political speeches were given on Vidarbha but no efforts were made to fulfill them till date. ‘Credit link’ has come to a standstill. If Vidarbha is not developed now the same Vidarbha will keep you away from power.
Dr Ashish Deshmukh said that Vidarbha’s population is 23 percent. Vidarbha is known for misery. Youths here are sensing dark future. Youths are drifting to other places. The young generation is disappointed. They don’t want to get involved into farming profession. Mineral-based industries can be set up here. Tourism can be a good profession. Katol can be developed as fertilizer industry. Efforts will be made for National Dairy in Bhandara. For overall development of Vidarbha, separation (Vidarbha State) is must. New state should be created. Rehabilitation is needed. Fadnavis and Gadkari had visited me during my fast unto death and had assured that if BJP comes to power at Centre and State, Vidarbha State will be created. During the discussion, the protagonists of Vidarbha State and opponents started raising slogans. The opponents said the discussion is being held for reducing Vidarbha’s backlog and development and not for separate Vidarbha nor breaking Maharashtra into pieces.
Sudhakar Deshmukh said that thousands of jobs could be generated if and only if the ongoing projects such as Gosikhurd, Cargo Hub, MIHAN, International Safari, Biopark, and other projects are completed speedily.
Patangrao Kadam said that due to mistakes committed by us the BJP has come to power. Now complete Vidarbha’s irrigation backlog, complete all development projects. Nobody is stopping them. Maharashtra has to be kept unified.
BJP’s Krishna Khopde requested the Speaker to stop Question Hour and continue discussion on Vidarbha. A total of 44 MLAs have been elected from Vidarbha. They should be given chance to express their views. All the BJP MLAs from Nagpur District supported Khopde. However, the Speaker rejected the demand but said the duration of discussion will be extended. But Khopde stuck to his demand. Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule too tried to support Khopde but was ‘silenced’ and ‘forced’ to sit on his seat by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Girish Bapat. Grasping the mood of Bapat, Khopde too returned to his seat ‘head dowm.’