Nagpur: Even as the simmering differences over the controversial statement of Maharashtra Advocate General Shrihari Aney on the issue of Vidarbha Statehood had not cooled down the NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar has fuelled the raging fire. Pawar’s statement that the separate Vidarbha demand has, in fact, has been raised only by non-Marathi personalities has snowballed into a major controversy and drew sharp reactions from the statehood proponents. Pawar is an ace politician and talking to the point is style of his working. Pawar’s statement while addressing the All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan Addressing could not be taken lightly in the context of his –language based retort on the Vidarbha statehood issue. Nagpur Today, in order to gauge the mood of the people connected with Vidarbha agitation and similar issues, sought to know their reactions.
Rajkumar Tirpude, son of the first Deputy Chief Minister and bitter supporter of separate Viadarbha late Nasikrao Tirpude, is taking the movement ahead in his own way. Rajkumar has floated a party as well in the name of ‘Vidarbha Maza.’ Reacting to Pawar’s statement, Rajkumar said that the NCP supremo’s bid to create a language-based rift could not be taken lightly in the sense he was speaking at the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan. “Pawar’s attempt to create a divide by giving the Vidarbha issue the language colour will not succeed. Such tactics to weaken the movement were adopted in the past as well and failed,” stated Rajkumar Tirpude.
BJP MLA and a strong Vidarbha supporter, Ashish Deshmukh, condemned the remarks of Sharad Pawar. “Pawar is a respected leader of the State and he should not have made such reprehensible statement. Vidarbha statehood demand is an old one. Pawar should remember that Vidarbha, sacrificing its glorious status, has supported Maharashtra. This fight is not of any language at all. The cultural thinking of Maharashtra and Vidarbha is poles apart. Raking up the language is a ploy to create dissent in Western Maharashtra against Vidarbha movement. The Statehood is necessary to get rid of malnutrition, Naxalism, unemployment, farmers’ suicides and other stigmas. People here rise above petty language barriers and respect the culture,” asserted Deshmukh.
Newly elected MLC and BJP Spokesman Girish Vyas said that he unequivocally condemns Pawar’s statement terming the Vidarbha agitation as rich people’s charade. Everyone in Vidarbha is connected with the agitation. The statement of Pawar is meant to usurp political gains (Rajnitik roti sekna hai). Such remarks will vitiate the atmosphere. “Does Pawar want to poison the minds of people by giving the statement from a public platform?” is my question to the NCP President. BJP is in favour of smaller states. Our Government will carve out Vidarbha state. Even Shiv Sena will support it. Does Pawar want birth of a state amid volatile environment, terror and police atrocities? The ploy is to defame the Vidarbha movement. But it will not succeed. Vidarbha will become a separate state, that is for certain, albeit constitutionally,” declared Vyas.
Former MP and Union Minister Vilas Muttemwar continued to play positive role in favour of Vidarbha statehood even after holding posts in party as well as Government. Reacting to Pawar’s statement, Muttemwar chose to advise people of Vidarbha to continue their movement. People should cold-shoulder words of any political leader. People should not get disconcerted over opinions expressed by others. The outsiders are not apprised of miseries and pains of Vidarbha people. Even if negativity is expressed, people should continue with their struggle for Vidarbha statehood, stated Muttemwar.
Former Minister Satish Chaturvedi, a Vidarbha supporter, said that people should neglect such statements with disdain. The movement is all Vidarbha. There is no information that outsiders are running the movement. Vidarbha is culturally rich region, retorted Chaturvedi.
V-Connect organisation’s Mukesh Samarth slammed Pawar by saying the NCP leader is bereft of truth. That is why he is giving such statement. The dispute is not between Marathi and other language. “We are demanding separate Vidarbha on the basis of Marathi language. Pawar’s statement is aimed at arousing tempers in Western Maharashtra against the people of Vidarbha. When several Hindi states could be carved, when two states of Telugu could be created then why no two states of Marathi could be created? This is an attempt to create rift among people. This is part of spreading hatred. In Vidarbha, neither the language was an issue nor will be in future,” declared Samarth.
The NCP leader Anil Deshmukh tried to play safe and support Pawar. According to Deshmukh, Pawar’s statement is being misinterpreted. “Pawar himself has on several occasions come out in support of separate Vidarbha. His remarks are being misinterpreted. The NCP Supremo has, in fact, said that Vidarbha’s people’s sentiments should be respected. Our party is a smaller one. Big parties should take lead then our party will support them,” said Anil Deshmukh.