Nagpur: One of the most harsh criticism one gets to hear against the notion of separate Vidarbha is that it will not be viable economically.
“Without being a part of Maharashtra that has the cash cow of Mumbai, where will Nagpur be?” A question often raised by Western Maharashtra politicians, specially from parties like the Shiv Sena.
“With a surplus of at least Rs. 100/ crores” states Prabir Kumar Chakravorty, IPS (Rtd) firmly, one of the most active proponents of Vidarbha and an illustrious ex Police Officer of DG level, now settled in Nagpur.
After a very meritorious student life in Nagpur Prabir first became a journalist, before joining IPS in 1971. He very fast climbed the ladder to become Range DIG Amravati and Nagpur, Commissioner of Police (Nashik) and Add. C.P. Mumbai.
Promoted as I.G. in 1996 and worked Civil rights protection in Nagpur and Amraoti. He later became Principal Secretary Home Department. On promotion as D.G. took charge of Home Guards & Civil Defence in 2004. In 2005 was given additional responsibility as Special Advisor to Dy. C.M. & H.M. ( M.S.).
Since he retired, he chose not Mumbai to reside in as most senior officials do, but chose to return to his roots in Nagpur and has been a most vociferous advocate for Separate Vidarbha.
“Do not forget that when Samyukta Maharashtra was formed in 1960, Vidarbha was much more prosperous than most other regions of Maharashtra, save Mumbai and Pune. We were leaps and bounds ahead of Konkan, Marathwada and most districts of Western Maharashtra too! That is why Nagpur leaders were reluctant to join the new state relinquishing the distinction the city had of being the capital of Madhya Pradesh. It was then that they promised us a ‘jhukta map’ – meaning the balance always tilting in our favour, a promise that was cruelly shattered within months…We not only are mineral rich in material like coal, Manganese and dolomite, we also have the maximum forest cover. So good scope for paper industry and other industries based on forest produce. Also Vidarbha has the richest agricultural soil in the state – farmers have become backward and poor after the formation of Maharashtra precisely because irrigation facilities were denied to our region and hijacked to Western Maharashtra which began growing cash crop sugarcane as a result. ”
All this is not mere speculation. Some years ago a moot Vidarbha Vidhan Parishad ( assembly) session was held in Nagpur by the Vidarbha Andolan Samithi that had renowned Economists like Proff Khandewale and Pitale preparing a budget for Vidarbha. This budget based on very realistic estimates showed that from the very first year Vidarbha had the potential of showing surplus of at least Rs. 100 to Rs. 110 crores.
It is clear Prabir and all his colleagues in the Struggle for Vidarbha have done their homework and are prepared with facts and figures to show Vidarbha can stand and sustain itself. In fact, it can prove to be the most prosperous state in the country.
“Where do you see Vidarbha status right now ? Will it be a feasibility in the near future?” NT asked.
“That is the poll promise BJP made and we laid our trust in their leaders, especially Devendra Fadnavis. If they do not deliver before the next elections, they will be doomed, and they know it. The political scenario of Vidarbha can become very hotch potch leading to chaos and instability in the whole state. Astute politicians realize this” replies D.G. Chakravorty.
How did this Bengali man, who throws an open invitation to all of Nagpur for Durga Puja at his home in Dharampeth, come to become a Nagpurian? Did a job with the Railways or Coal mining bring his father to Central India during British times, we wonder.
“Quite the contrary” says Prabir proudly. Ironically, this IPS officer’s father came to Nagpur many eons ago to go into hiding from the British Police!
Late Dr. Bhupendranath Chakravorty, a medical Doctor of W. Bengal became an armed revolutionary during the freedom struggle. Charged with attempted murder and arson, he fled to Nagpur to ‘go underground’. His medical license was cancelled by the British though they could not find him and incarcerate him.
It was only after 1947 that he got the revered position of Freedom Fighter and his license to practise medicine was restored too. But Dr. Bhupendranath chose not to go back to his home state and had a thriving practise in Sitabuldi.
Prabir, born in Nagpur went to schools like Patwardhan High School and became a ‘pucca Nagpuri’.
“It was in my days with the Maharashtra Police when I was posted to places like Amraoti that I realized the grave injustice that was being meted out to the once prosperous area and how it was declining fast. It is a wrong notion to think that people in rural Vidarbha do not know about the Vidarbha issues and do not want a separate state. They are more socially and politically aware than many urban people” says Chakravorty firmly.
An optimist, he looks forward to being a proud resident of independent Vidarbha which will be a very cosmopolitan, educated and thriving place to be in.
“My father lived out 8 years in hiding, hoping for independent India – and he lived to see it! So shall I see Vidarbha, I am confident” says Prabir.