On the occasion of Maharashtra day, Pro-Vidarbha activists have taken to protest demanding a separate ‘Vidarbha’ state out of Maharashtra on May 1, 2022. Protestors have pasted ‘Vidarbha’ stickers on the signboards of certain state administrative offices in Nagpur on Sunday, covering the word Maharashtra.
Every year, May 1 is celebrated as statehood day for Maharshtra and Gujarat after the two separate states were carved out on a linguistic basis out of the erstwhile colonial Bombay Presidency on May 1, 1960. However, the same day is observed as ‘Black day’ among many in the eastern region of Maharashtra who demand separate state of Vidarbha. On Sunday midnight, pro-Vidarbha protestors pasted Vidarbha state stickers on signboards of Maharashtra state administrative offices in Nagpur.
Nagpur, which is officially the second capital of Maharashtra after the state formation sees similar protests every year on this day. The protestors have demanded that since the inclusion of the region in Maharashtra, Vidarbha has been sidelined in terms of development. They have alleged that as compared to other regions in the state, the development of Vidarbha has been abysmally low and has been stalled.
The protestors tried to stage a protest when Cabinet Minister in the state government Nitin Raut was presiding over a function to commemorate Maharashtra Day in the Nagpur’s Kasturchand Park on Sunday morning. The protestors gave slogans in support of a separate Vidarbha state while Raut was about to give his speech during the event. The city police detained pro-Vidarbha activist Ahmed Kadar and five others following the incident.
The Movement for separate Vidarbha
The movement for carving out a separate Vidarbha state dates back to the 1950s when scholars and thinkers from the region demanded an independent state owing to its long history. Modern-day protests have emerged after a sentiment rose that Vidarbha, which is located far away from the state capital of Mumbai and other political power centres in Maharashtra, has been sidelined in terms of development. Pro-Vidarbhites while raising prevailing issues of farmer suicides, droughts and power cuts that grapple the region think a separate statehood for Vidarbha would solve their problems.
In the run-up to the 2014 state assembly elections, many BJP leaders including Central Minister Nitin Gadkari had supported the cause of Vidarbha amidst rising independent sentiment. However, when Devendra Fadnavis became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and represented Vidarbha on many fronts, the movement for Vidarbha diluted further. In the recent development, activists have again taken up the cause of separate statehood in many districts of Vidarbha.