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Vidarbha movement

File:India Vidarbha locator map.svg
Map of India with Vidarbha highlighted in red

The Vidarbha movement includes political activities organised by various individuals, organizations and political parties, for creation of an independent state of Vidarbha, within the republic of India. The proposed state corresponds to the eastern 11 districts of the state of Maharashtra.

Statehood demand

The Vidarbha region is nationally distinguished and geographically very distant from the state capital, Mumbai. Vidarbha is also historically different, culturally distinct, politically distracted, economically distressed and sentimentally quite different from western Maharashtra but was always dominated by it.

The demand for a separate state of Vidarbha was raised for the first time over 100 years ago. As a result of which, the Central Provinces legislature passed a unanimous resolution to create a separate state of Mahavidarbha on 1 October 1938 at Nagpur, much before the demand for a "Samyukta Maharashtra" was even conceived.[1]

After merger with the new state of Maharashtra, the demand of separate statehood was raised time and again, with an economic view, quoting the increasing developmental backlog.

State Reorganization Commission

The Government of India appointed the first State Reorganisation Committee (SRC) under Chairmanship of Fazal Ali on 29 December 1953.

Vidarbhite leaders at that time, like M S Aney and Brijlal Biyani, submitted a memorandum to State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) for a separate Vidarbha State.

Bharatratan Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had also favoured a "One state - One language" principle for reorganisation of states, he was against "one language - one state" policy. Accordingly, he submitted his views about forming at least 2 separate states of Marathi-speaking people, instead of a single large state of Maharashtra. As per his opinion, one state should have one language but at the same time, there can be two or more separate states of one language, depending upon the need for efficient administration, geographic and historical need and sentiments of local people. He had clearly favoured "Vidarbha State" with Nagpur as capital, saying, "Single government can not administer such a huge state as United Maharashtra." [2]

The Fazal Ali SRC, after considering these memoranda and all other related aspects, favoured a separate Vidarbha State with Nagpur as capital in the year 1956.

But even after the recommendation of SRC headed by Fazal Ali, under the influence of western Maharashtra congress leaders, Vidarbha was made part of the new state of Maharashtra in 1960 by the central government, favouring the "One language - One state" principle and Nagpur city lost the capital status. Nagpur thus became the only city in independent India, which lost "state capital status" after historically being a capital of the biggest state of India (by area) for more than 100 years.

Nagpur Pact

The 1953 Nagpur Pact assures equitable development of all the regions of the proposed Marathi State. Most prominent clause of the Nagpur Pact was: one session of Maharashtra state assembly in Nagpur city every year, with minimum six weeks duration, to discuss issues exclusively related to Vidarbha.

The signatories to the pact in 1953 were:

  • Yashwantrao Chavan, then Minister in Morarji Desai ministry of Bombay State
  • Ramrao Krishnarao Patil, Gandhian, Ex ICS Officer and member of first Planning Commission.[3]

Practically after the merger, not a single clause of "Nagpur Pact" was ever followed by Maharashtra Government. The assembly session majority of times was declared over in two weeks' time. All sundry issues were discussed and Vidarbha was never given any importance in the house, during Nagpur session. People of Vidarbha were always told to come to Mumbai for further follow up on any issue , as ' Files are at Mumbai.' For last 55 years, the Nagpur session was thus reduced to a "Government sponsored picnic" for the politicians and bureaucrats alike.

Merger with Maharashtra

On 1 May 1960, the Vidarbha state, recommended by Fazal Ali SRC, was merged with a newly formed Maharashtra State, under the agreement Nagpur Pact.

Post merger developments

The Vidarbha region under new Maharashtra state continued to suffer in development. This gave impetus to the demand of more equitable development of all regions of Maharashtra. The area supplies raw material in the form of electricity, minerals,and rice and cotton to the more-developed western Maharashtra. People of the Vidarbha area find themselves Script error: No such module "convert". away from the state capital, Mumbai, and have a feeling of this region being a colony of western Maharashtra.

Under these circumstances, the Maharashtra Government appointed a committee, to study regional imbalances in Maharashtra. The committee found that:

"The failure to report to the state assembly every year in terms of the Nagpur Agreement, has been a serious lapse on the part of the state Government. If a report had been made to state legislature, as per the Nagpur Agreement, the matter would have received sustained attention. In the circumstances this did not happen."[4]

Political groups associated with the movement

A staunch Vidarbhite Madhav Shrihari Aney won the Nagpur loksabha seat in 1962, on separate Vidarbha state agenda as an independent candidate.[5]

Raje Vishveswarrao won Chandrapur loksabha seat in 1977, on separate Vidarbha agenda.[6]

Mr Jambuwantrao Dhote won, Nagpur loksaha seat in 1971, as a Forward Bloc candidate, with a clear separate Vidarbha state agenda.[7] Vidarbha Janata Congress was founded by Mr Jambuwantrao Dhote, on 09-09-2002 for the separate Vidarbha state.

Former central cabinet ministers of congress party, Vasant Sathe and N. K. P. Salve, formed the Vidarbha Rajya Nirman Congress in 2003, with a clear separate Vidarbha-state agenda.

An internal committee of congress party, led by P.A. Sangama, studied the merits and demerits of demand, and after many discussions with a cross-section of people, politicians and organizations, recommended formation of the separate state of Vidarbha.

Former member of parliament from Nagpur, Banawarilal Purohit floated the Vidarbha Rajya Party in 2004, just before the loksabha elections, with a clear agenda of the separate Vidarbha state.

After declaration of the separate Telangana state by central Government on 9 December 2009,[8] all these and more than 65 other organizations have joined together, demanding the separate Vidarbha state. This umbrella group is known as Vidarbha Rajya Sangram Samitee.[9] Most prominent amongst this group is the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is committed to the cause of the separate Vidarbha state, as per its national manifesto. Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), all the factions of Republican Party of India (RPI) have pledged full support to the separate Vidarbha-state movement. Congress party ex-member of Parliament from the Nagpur constituency, Vilas Muttemwar, and ex- member of parliament from Wardha constituency Datta Meghe are at the forefront of the separate Vidarbha movement.

During 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections, as per some news-reports statehood for Vidarbha became a non-issue and the Vidarbha Rajya Andolan Samiti (VJAS) had appealed to the people of Vidarbha to opt for NOTA (None of the above) option in this election, as no party was raising the issue of a separate Vidarbha State [10]

Opposition to separatism from within Vidarbha

Many renowned experts from Vidarbha have opposed separate statehood from Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena has been opposing it on the plank that Marathi-speaking people shouldn’t be divided and reminds that Samyukta Maharashtra Movement fructified into United Maharashtra only after sacrifice of 105 martyrs in agitations for same.,[11][12] In 2009-10, Shiv Sena formed the Akhand Maharashtra Parishad in Vidarbha, to conduct a series of lectures in different regions of Vidarbha by experts on socio-economic and political issues.[13]

CPI(M) had held 'Akhand Maharashtra Parishad' or 'United Maharashtra Conference' in year 2000 to denounce the demand for a separate Vidarbha and to underscore the need for having strong States to protect the federal structure of the country. In the conference, the CPI(M) politburo member, Mr. Sitaram Yechury, pointed out the RSS's 'sinister design' in the formation of Vidarbha, saying the move was to further the Sangh Parivar's 'hidden agenda' of making the country a totalitarian state. He told the conference that the RSS wanted small States which would depend on a powerful Centre to take ahead its agenda of destroying the country's secular fabric and establish a single nation and single culture. In Mr. Yechury's view this was dangerous, for it could pave the way for dictatorship. The strong and well-established linguistic States had become the RSS's target and this could be a big threat to the socio-cultural diversity. To combat the under- development, the existing system of the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer needed to be addressed. Other Marxists veterans of Maharashtra, notably Ms. Ahilya Rangnekar, who had participated in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement and former legislator, Mr. Prabhakar Sanzgiri, were participants of the conference as well.[14]

Noted politician and economist from Vidarbha Late Dr. Shrikant Jichkar opposed separation of Vidarbha from rest of Maharashtra based on the facts that such separation is nonviable for sustenance of Vidarbha. In the quotes of Dr. Jichkar:[15] ″I do this every time the demand surfaces. Those who made an issue of it have lost elections. The Shiv Sena won seats there despite being opposed to Vidarbha and the BJP lost despite being in favor of it." He continues "If Vidarbha is hived off, we will have no funds from day one to run the new State. The region's share is burdened by a deficit and Monopoly Cotton Purchase Scheme, Employment Guarantee Scheme and such activity will immediately cease since we would not have money to pay salaries." All available resources - iron ore, surplus power generation, forestry - would not be enough. "In this context, Mumbai - and by implication the rest of the State - subsidizes Vidarbha's sustenance. ``Mumbai is the door to the temple of development and we cannot allow a division of the Marathi-speaking State.″ Dr. Shrikant Jichkar also felt that separate Vidarbha would only benefit a handful of businessmen and harm the common Marathi people.[16]

See also

List of proposed states and territories of India


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  2. ^ "Thoughts on linguistic states",, webpage: AmbTh.
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  4. ^ GoM(1985):Report of the Fact Finding Committee on Regional Imbalance in Maharashtra, Planning Department, Mumbai.
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  7. ^ ^ "General Election of India 1971, List of Successful Candidate". Election Commission of India. p. 71. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  8. ^ "Centre agrees to form Telangana state".
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