ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Article 371(2) and the Receding Demand for Vidarbha State

The receding demand for statehood for Vidarbha in Maharashtra presents a striking contrast to the violent agitation in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh for a separate Telangana state even though Vidarbha's claim is older and backed by a favourable recommendation by the States Reorganisation Commission in 1955.

The Maharashtra legislative assembly unanimously passed a resolution in 1984 seeking orders under Article 371(2) from the president of India that would constitutionally place a responsibility on the governor of the state to strive for balanced development of its regions. Ten years later, in 1994, the presidential assent led to the formation of three development boards, including the Vidarbha Statutory Development Board (VSDB). It soon became apparent that this constitutional action was unsuccessful in reviving the stagnant economy of Vidarbha and when on 1 November 2000 the new states of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh came to be constituted, a call was given for a bandh in Vidarbha on 27 November demanding a separate state.

The pent-up anger of the people saw a spontaneous and warm response to the call. Supported by all organisations and political parties, with the exception of the Shiv Sena and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), the bandh seemed to be the beginning of a prolonged violent agitation. The horrendous suicides of farmers in that period offered further testimony of the prospects for Vidarbha’s rural economy in the state of Maharashtra. However, the expected outbreak of public anger turning into a series of protests and rallies did not take place. Even the decision of the central government in 2009 to concede the demand for a separate Telangana state could not revive the dormant movement in this region.

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