Published On : Tue, Aug 19th, 2014

Narendra Modi’s Nagpur Visit : Will BJP live up to Vidarbha’s aspiration this time?

VidarbhaNagpur News.

As the city gears up to have a glimpse of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit here on August 21, the people also rest their hopes that Modi’s visit may pronounce some substantial development in the creation of Vidarbha. However, with the local BJP leaders still acquired the silent gesture upon the issue, questions are bound to be raised – Is the Bharatiya Janata Party really serious about creation of Vidarbha state? For record’s sake, every party leader at least in this region swears by it and cites the 1995 resolution moved in the party’s national executive in Bhubaneswar in which it supported formation of Vidarbha state. But the resolution per se means nothing because of party’s other compulsions.

The BJP, which headed the NDA government, was in the best position to fulfill its commitment to Vidarbha in year 2000 when the Vajpayee government carved out three new states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand. At that time, the party left Vidarbha on the back burner on the pretext that the precondition for formation of the state-passing a resolution in its favour in the Maharashtra legislature was not achieved.

That was only half the story. The biggest stumbling block for the BJP is its own traditional saffron ally Shiv Sena. Wedded to cause of ‘Marathi manus’, the Sena is the only political party totally opposed to creation of Vidarbha state. Sena founder Bal Thackeray was never in favour of dividing the Marathi-speaking Maharashtra. He also feared Vidarbha region, if separated, would be dominated by non-Marathis.

At the same time, the senior Thackeray deeply regretted lack of development of Vidarbha. At a public meeting in Ramtek in 1996, he went on to declare that if the Sena-BJP government failed to speed up Vidarbha’s development in two years and bring it on par with other more developed regions, he would concede the demand for Vidarbha state. That unfulfilled promise of Sena supremo remains an embarrassment for all local Sena leaders.

BJP may be the country’s leading party but when it comes to Maharashtra, it always plays second fiddle to Sena. So within the state, BJP has not been able to overrule its traditional partner’s objections. Till date there is no change in the position. It is thus clear that as long as BJP-Sena remain allies, Vidarbha would remain a thorn in their ties. The Sena seems to be in no hurry to change its stand because despite its clear anti-Vidarbha position, it has had fairly good electoral successes in the Assembly as well Parliamentary elections.

Congress leaders are divided on the issue but they lose no chance to blame BJP for not creating Vidarbha when it could in 2000. Some Congress leaders also blame the BJP for abandoning the all-party forum formed in 2009 to revive the movement. “We were doing very well at the start. But half way through, the BJP started separate activities like youth rallies and the movement was once again grounded,” lamented a Congress leader associated with it.

The irony is that Congress leaders supporting the cause are unable to work out unanimity and get the party high-command’s nod. In the same way, the BJP has no guts to break away from Sena over Vidarbha. In this unending political game Vidarbha is remains a casualty.