Two years after the Parliament passed a Bill to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh for creation of a separate state of Telangana, the Vidarbha Rajya Andolan Samiti (VRAS) staged a major dharna here at Jantar Mantar on Thursday to push for a separate Vidarbha before the Centre. In the past few months, the movement has received a fresh impetus with Maharashtra’s former advocate general Sreehari Aney backing the demand for carving out a separate Vidarbha. Aney had come under intense criticism from all political parties for voicing his opinion while in office and thus put in his papers to join the movement as its conscience keeper as well as its new face.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Thursday, along with former Rajuri MLA Wamanrao Chatap, Aney was the centre of attention during the day-hour long dharna attended by a few thousand people, mostly from Vidarbha. There was a controversy too as members of Nitish Rane’s Swabhiman Sanghatana, who support an undivided Maharashtra, threw ink on Aney’s face. Aney remained unfazed and earlier in his speech, spelled out the way ahead for the decades-old movement.”Today is a special day as we have come knocking on the doors of the Union government after several years. I want to tell you that what happens in Maharashtra’s assembly, all the noise does not matter. It is the Parliament that matters. If we get a 51% majority in Parliament, a separate state of Vidarbha can be created,” said Aney.Following his speech, the former AG also met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to rally support for Vidarbha’s statehood and according to sources, Kejriwal has agreed to support the cause.In the days ahead, VRAS plans to bring together other smaller groups who have been agitating for Vidarbha’s statehood under one umbrella group while its core leadership supported by Aney is looking to reach out to political parties outside Maharashtra. “We will meet with leaders from non-Congress and non-BJP parties to seek support for our movement. With the help of parliamentarians from Maharashtra and other political parties, we are looking to raise this issue during the winter session of Parliament,” Aney told dna.The movement for a separate Vidarbha has existed for nearly a century but has never come under national spotlight. Behind a call for Vidarbha’s statehood is the region’s socio-economic backwardness, high unemployment, agrarian distress and lack of industries. The Vidarbha region comprises of 11 districts and about 22% of state’s population is concentrated in this mineral-rich region.
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