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    Published On : Mon, Dec 7th, 2015

    Ten little Vidarbhites…..and then there were none! Or is there hope still with Shreehari Aney/ Advocate General ?

    Ten Little Indians

     

    Ten little Indian boys went out to dine;One choked his little self

    and then there were nine.

     

    Nine little Indian boys sat up very late;One overslept himself
    and then there were eight.

     

    Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon;One said he’d stay there
    and then there were seven.

     

    Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks;One chopped himself in halves
    and then there were six.

     

    Six little Indian boys playing with a hive;A bumblebee stung one
    and then there were five.

     

    Five little Indian boys going in for law,One got in Chancery
    and then there were four.

     

    Four little Indian boys going out to sea;A red herring swallowed one
    and then there were three.

     

    Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo;A big bear hugged one
    and then there were two.

    Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun;On got frizzled up
    and then there was one.

     

    One little Indian boy left all alone;He went and hanged himself
    and then there were none.

    Most of us have known this famous poem/ limerick in our childhood. We even had a movie based on it called ‘Gumnaam’ where one by one all ten persons stranded on an island are killed! But wait, the hero survives – and also saves the heroine.

    To borrow from this very popular poem, it seems to narrate the sorry gatha of the ill fated Vidarbha movement that began almost immediately after Vidarbha and Nagpur, then the capital city of Central Provinces – M.P. later – was taken away from this state and merged with the newly formed Maharashtra.

    Over the long 53 years since this movement began, its so called leaders lost their sheen, and lost their motivation one by one, leaving Vidarbha’s state declining from bad to worse to worst.

    Not to digress too much into the past, let’s just look at the past decade only. We had this rising star of the city , the youngest Mayor Nagpur has had, who was so vocal about Vidarbha and its issues. He was our voice in the Mantralaya of Mumbai, he was our Hero who declared ” I will rather be CM of Vidarbha than choosing to be the CM of Maharashtra”.

    Then his party BJP came to power and formed a government with the support of Shiv Sena. Modi handpicked Fadnavis who had no qualms about going back on his word and anointing himself the CM of Maharashtra in a dazzling oath taking ceremony with sets literally set up by Bollywood maestros. There were artificial lotus blooming in the Arabian Sea and an entire Cricket stadium was converted into a fantasy stage for a function that lasted for less than an hour.

    His ‘home coming’ to Nagpur after that was like that of conquering hero – we could not be faulted for thinking ‘here was the King of Vidarbha who has just captured power in the enemy state of Western Maharashtra!’

    But that was far from the truth, wasn’t it? We had that day lost the ‘first Indian’ – the most vocal speaker for Vidarbha.

    And then he began weaning away the rest.

    Remember Tiwari?

    The state government roped in Kishor Tiwari, prominent farm activist known to be a harsh critic of the government, to head a mission to reduce farm distress and arrest the trend of suicides in 14 districts of the state.

    They also conferred executive power on Tiwari with a secretary-level status for him. The 14 districts include six from western Vidarbha and eight from Marathwada.

    Result – Tiwari stopped holding press conferences giving latest statistics on farmer suicides in Vidarbha and hasn’t been heard from since.

    And then there were eight.

    But wait, we have not mentioned the King Pin among Nagpur/ Vidarbha leaders. Nitin Gadkari himself. Before elections he signed the memorandum, put to him by Vidarbha Andolan and VED leaders swearing he would work for the cause of Vidarbha.

    Well – he went to Delhi ( instead of Devon as in the poem) – and then we lost one!

    And so the drain continued.

    Ashish Deshmukh, son of Ranjit Deshmukh who has been in the Congress all his life, went and joined BJP saying it supported the formation of Vidarbha.

    “If statehood is not granted to Vidarbha, I will commence of fast unto death” he declared.

    Then he was elected MLA, went to Mumbai – and then there was another gone!

    Finally, it was the turn of Aney to break the ranks of Vidarbhites, or so we thought.

    Some months ago, Devendra persuaded him to become the Advocate General of Maharashtra.

    Shreehari, grandson of first Vidarbha ‘freedom figther’ Bapuji Aney lived in Mumbai no doubt but had kept on espousing the cause of Vidarbha. The flames of his grandfather’s struggle may have become a flicker, but he kept it alive.

    We thought with him, the last of them was lost. In his press conferences after taking on the job, he did not utter a word about Vidarbha, just saying he still believed in it. But a job was a job and now he was Advocate General of the state of Maharashtra.

    Then what made him release his book on the history of the Vidarbha agitation right on the anvil of the state’s Winter Session?

    He not only released his book in Nagpur, he made these utterances at the function:

    He called for a referendum on the issue of carving out a separate Vidarbha state.

    “If 51 per cent people vote in favour of statehood, then the Centre should create a separate Vidarbha state. I know for sure that more than 80 per cent people in the region will vote in favour of it and that is why the Central government does not have the courage to go in for a referendum,” Aney said at a function to release his book ‘Vidarbha Gatha’ (The saga of Vidarbha) here yesterday.

    He expressed confidence that the referendum would be “in favour” of separate state.

    “The efforts of private agencies have indicated it (the separate Vidarbha movement) clearly. District Bar Associations in all the 11 districts of Vidarbha have passed resolutions unanimously (far carving out separate state),” said Aney.

    Aney said that over 35,000 farmers in Vidarbha have committed suicide, which would not have occurred in separate Vidarbha state.

    As expected, leaders of Western Maharashtra, politicians from Congress who never supported openly the formation of Vidarbha pounced on him today. They called his speech blasphemous to Maharashtra, to the high post he occupies, and called for his removal.

    Even the C.M. while speaking at his ‘Tea Party’ later stressed that as Advocate General of Maharashtra, Aney should not say anything that goes against the state of Maharashtra, even if it was his personal opinion.

    So what provoked Aney to speak up about Vidarbha just when he did?

    Was it part of the strategy according to which a large contingent of Vidarbha Rajya Andolan Samiti sat on a dharna in front of the CM’s private residence in Nagpur yesterday?

    Remember, Aney is in Nagpur to address the joint houses of Maharashtra Assembly tomorrow on the opening day of the Winter session. It is anyone’s guess now whether he will be allowed to speak by the upset opposition and an irate government.

    The good news is, this happening, deliberate or not, has stirred up the pot and brought to boil again the Vidarbha issue.

    Remember, it was the very first separate state demanded in India and on some pretext or the other it has not been granted while many smaller states have been carved out of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and recently Andhra Pradesh.

    No one who has studied the problems of Vidarbha doubts that getting a separate state status is the only way to alleviating its people’s misery.

    Are we now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel?

    Shreehari, are you the surviving Indian?

     

    Sunita Mudliyar ( Associate Editor) 

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