Zee Media Bureau
Nagpur: As the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre prepares to announce the formation of a new state Telangana – carved out of Andhra Pradesh, demands have arisen from other regions of the country as well.
The heat is on the Centre, now, to create a separate Vidarbha state out of Maharashtra and also agree to the demand for Gorkhaland (from West Bengal).
Staunch protagonist of Vidarbha state, former BJP MP Banwarilal Purohit, who formed a political outfit for fighting for the cause, said that his party had passed a resolution in its Bhubneshwar executive committee in 1992 supporting separate Vidarbha.
Now, the BJP should convince its alliance partner Shiv Sena to concede the demand, he said.
The issue (of creating separate Vidarbha) has been raised at appropriate forum many times in the past, Congress MP from Nagpur Vilas Muttemwar said.
A group of pro-Vidarbha leaders, including former director general of police Prabir Chakraborty, former MLA Wamanrao Chatap along with Deepak Nilawar, Ahmed Kadar (of pro-Vidarbha group) and Ram Newle from Shetkari Sanghatana, will hold a sit-in agitation at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on August 5 to press for the demand, Chakraborty said.
Two Congress stalwarts and former Union ministers N K P Salve and Vasant Sathe (both hailing from Vidarbha) had raised the issue some years back and also sat on an indefinite strike in city.
An all-party bandh demanding separate Vidarbha had also been organised in the region about two years back, sources said.
Situated in central India and eastern region of Maharashtra state, Vidarbha consists of 11 districts, including Nagpur, Amravati, Akola, Wardha, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Gondia and Bhandara, Buldhana and Yavatmal.
The region`s largest city Nagpur is famous for orange and cotton cultivation. Vidarbha holds two-thirds of Maharashtra`s mineral resources, three quarters of its forest resources, and is a net producer of power.
Though rich in minerals, coal, forests and mountains, this region has been underdeveloped and has seen a spurt in suicides by thousands of farmers in the last decade owing to poor living conditions.
In West Bengal`s Darjeeling, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has called a three-day bandh from yesterday to press for its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung said if the Centre announced a Telengana state, then it should also declare one for Gorkhaland.
"Our demand for Gorkhaland is older than the demand for Telengana. If the Centre announces a Telengana state then it should also declare a Gorkhaland state," Gurung said.
The GJM president said that the bandh would be extended indefinitely till the Centre acceded to the demand.
He also said that he would resign as chief executive of the Gorkha Territorial Administration, which runs the administration in the hills. He alleged that the West Bengal government did not cooperate with him and GTA members for its smooth running.
Gurung asked the people of Darjeeling to be prepared for a long agitation till Gorkhaland was achieved.
The demand for new states is not just restricted to Vidarbha and Gorkhaland.
The Bodoland Peoples Front, or BPF, has already urged the Central government to take up the case for carving out a Bodoland state from Assam in the manner it is proceeding on the Telangana issue.
In Uttar Pradesh, union minister Ajit Singh led-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has stepped up its demand for Harit Pradesh.
And the creation of Telangana is expected to fan the demand for a separate Saurashtra state from Maharashtra.
(With PTI inputs)