Clamour for separate S’rashtra, Bhilistan to get louder
Gandhinagar: Centre’s green signal for a separate Telangana state has come as a shot in the arm for those demanding statehood for Saurashtra and Bhilistan. With just a few months to go for general elections, the twin demands have the potential to create political problems for CM Narendra Modi, who is eyeing the BJP’s prime ministerial nomination.
The four-decades-old demand of a separate state of Saurashtra-Kutch was put on the backburner for some time, but the Telangana decision has injected fresh life into it. Saurashtra Sankalan Samiti, which claims to have support of about 300 chambers of commerce, industry associations and youth organisations, has revived the demand for Saurashtra-Kutch state.
“We have become active again from July. We have formed Yuva Kranti Sena, which has youths as its members, to revitalise the movement for Saurashtra-Kutch state. Over the next few months, these youths will travel across the region and mobilise people’s support,” said Parag Tejura, the Samiti’s president.
The organisation has also started distribution of pamphlets and plans to cover 5,000 villages in the region to create support for the movement. Tejura said that people of Saurashtra and Kutch would force the government to accept their demand.
Former labour minister Mansukh Joshi, who hails from Saurashtra, said, “Our demand for a separate state of Saurashtra has always been there. But, for some years, there was hardly any activity in this direction. Things are changing now with the Telangana decision. We are reviving the demand.”
However, BJP MLA from Tankara assembly seat, said, “The issue of a separate Saurashtra is a thing of the past. We strongly support a united Gujarat.”
The 30-year-old demand for Bhilistan, a separate state comprising tribal dominated parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, is also set to be revived.
“The demand for Bhilistan was never abandoned in the first place, but we will intensify our demand now. We have started contacting tribal leaders to strategise for the future. We are likely to have a meeting very soon and decide how to take the struggle ahead,” said Somji Damor, president of Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad.
Damor, who is a former MP, conceded that the issue has been in a dormant state for some years, but stated that support for a separate Bhilistan would erupt like a volcano now.
Telangana has fuelled the decades-old demands for separate Saurashtra-Kutch and a tribal state of Bhilistan.