Former Maharashtra Advocate General and founder of ViRA (Vidarbha Rajya Aghadi) Shreehari Aney’s unique campaign demanding separate Vidarbhahood – Rakhtashari Andolan – is getting an encouraging stimulus from people across Vidarbha. So much so that recently in Sakoli, Adv Manish Kaapgate celebrated his five-year-old son Suyash’s birthday where guests gave a thumb impression in blood for the campaign demanding a separate Vidarbha. Similarly, a wedding couple in Gondumri decided to start their wedding reception by doing the same along with their guests.
Aney had sent a letter to PM Narendra Modi on the occasion of Maharashtra Day (May 1) with the signatures of 10,000 people with their blood, demanding a separate Vidarbha state. “The BJP had promised that it would create a separate state of Vidarbha. So, we are sending letters signed with our blood to the PM as only he is capable of taking a decision. The BJP should fulfill its promise of separate Vidarbha,” said Aney.
Shreehari Aney in an exclusive chat with Nation Next spoke about the gaining popularity of the campaign. He said, “This idea seems to have caught-on among people. They are celebrating their birthdays and weddings by signing letters in blood. What is important is that our campaign is getting over whelming response from smaller cities like Gondumri, Sakoli, etc., which means that people from smaller and remote areas are going to bat for separate Vidarbha. The sentiments of separate Vidarbha aren’t restricted to bigger cities like Nagpur only.”
“It seems that in order to take home the point, it’s not necessary to cut a birthday cake showing the map of Maharashtra and carving a separating Vidarbha from it,” said Aney referring to the incident, where he had cut a cake on his last birthday by carving out a separate Vidarbha from the Maharashtra map etched on the cake.
When Nation Next spoke to Neeraj Khandewale, secretary of ViRA, he said, “We are sending letters to the PM to pass a resolution demanding a separate Vidarbha in the forthcoming Parliament session. We started this campaign on Maharashtra Day (May 1), which is observed as a black day in Vidarbha as on this day in 1960, Congress had merged Vidarbha with Maharashtra for its political gain despite the then on-going protest for a separate Vidarbha. So, we decided to conduct this unique signature campaign. The letter that is addressed to Modi has thumb impressions, of people who demand a separate Vidarbha, in blood. This has become a people’s campaign now. Besides bigger cities like Nagpur, Amravati, etc, we are carrying out this campaign in rural areas too. This campaign is gaining momentum because people are signing in blood even while attending weddings and birthdays.”
On asking about the reason for specifically choosing thumb impression over signatures, he said, “It’s the best authentication. One can go for a DNA or a forensic test if needed to validate the authenticity of the thumb impression. One can even ascertain the identity of the thumb impression through verifying it with people’s respective Aadhaar cards. Moreover, we also want to tell people that this campaign isn’t bogus.”
Khandewale, who feels that Modi is the only choice left for them to get this protest registered, says, “There’s a lot of politics involved in it. Modi is the only true leader of the nation unlike other Cabinet ministers. We have lost faith in our local leaders like Nitin Gadkari and Devendra Fadnavis. They can’t even speak about the issue of separate Vidarbha in front of Modi. We don’t think our leaders are so high in stature. Now we don’t even want to trouble them! If Modi can address people through Mann ki Baat on radio, he can hear our grievances too. When Modi can single-handedly ban 500 and 1000 currency notes, he can definitely create a separate Vidarbha.”