NEW DELHI: A day after the Shiv Sena announced its decision to go solo in the Lok Sabha elections, Maharashtra BJP legislator Ashish Deshmukh on Wednesday raised the demand for a Vidarbha state, saying the obstacle to it is gone.
Deshmukh said he could go to the extent of quitting the party if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to fulfil its promise of carving out a Vidarbha state from Maharashtra.
"Shiv Sena had become 'gale ki haddi' in granting the statehood to Vidarbha. Now that it has decided to break the alliance, the BJP can form the state without any hitch," he told the media here.
"Since the issue comes under the Centre's jurisdiction, I request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a decision before the Lok Sabha elections."
Ashish Deshmukh is son of Ranjeet Deshmukh, former Maharashtra Minister and former President of the Maharashtra Congress.
The Shiv Sena, the BJP's alliance partner in Maharashtra, has always been a fierce opponent of a separate Vidarbha, making it difficult for the BJP to speak on the issue openly.
"Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari have been staunch supporters of Vidarbha state, so they should follow up the matter with the central government," Deshmukh added.
He expressed surprise over the silence maintained by these leaders and the BJP over the issue.
Unlike Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Bodoland, the demand of Vidarbha was about five decades old and it was supported by the BJP during its National Executive in Bhubneshwar in 1996, Deshmukh said.
Former Lok Sabha member from Maharashtra Nana Patole had quit the BJP last month over the twin issues of Vidarbha and farmers' distress.
"I am hopeful that the BJP would take a decision soon as it has a majority government at the Centre. I am ready to make any sacrifice for Vidarbha. I will even tender my resignation, if needed," Deshmukh said.
He said people in Vidarbha were unhappy over rural distress and unemployment and this could impact the party in the upcoming elections.