Congress leader Naresh Pugalia bats for Vidarbha

Pugalia, a former MP and trade unionist, who has remained at the forefront for Vidarbha since long, dismisses that the agitation was limited to this second capital.

Nagpur: The demand for separate Vidarbha is not just confined to Nagpur and this myth is being spread by those opposed to statehood for this backward region of Maharashtra, according to Naresh Pugalia, senior Congress leader and firm supporter of the cause.

Pugalia, a former MP and trade unionist, who has remained at the forefront for Vidarbha since long, dismisses that the agitation was limited to this second capital.

Infact, the most vocal and aggressive leader for Vidarbha was MP Jambuwantrao Dhote hailing from Yavatmal. Even before Dhote came in to picture, Brijlal Biyani and Bapuji Ane, also from West Vidarbha region had led the agitation, he said.

Decades ago, Ane and Biyani, who were from west Vidarbha, were in forefront of the movement. Even today, Dr Anil Bonde of Amravati is prominently leading the agitation. Same way, those who migrated here and have lived here for generations have affinity to the region though they may not be born in Marathi speaking families. Now, this is their adopted land and they have duty to participate in its growth, Pugalia told a news agency.

The statehood is imperative to end the injustice being piled on the region since 1960. What is required is a non-political leader known for his honesty, integrity and willingness to take the fight till finish because politicians in the region suffer from trust deficit, he says.

Talking about the raw deal the region has got and why are people reluctant to protest, Pugalia said Vidarbha remained backward and from the day it merged with rest of Maharashtra.

As a result, today people in East Vidarbha districts are taking up arms while thousands of farmers have died in West Vidarbha due to economic distress and uncertainties of dryland farming.

The region accounts for 23 percent of state?s population but when it comes to budgetary allocation, jobs through Maharashtra Public Service Commission, and spending on infrastructure, the share given is not at all proportionate. Those getting jobs of police inspectors, PSIs in revenue and excise department from Vidarbha are only ten percent, he rued.

PTI

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