Though there is no movement for a separate Marathwada, there is seething discontent against the Maharashtra government, claimed Prakash Ambedkar, the leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh. During an interview with The Sunday Guardian, he said that the region has been under the shadow of continuous drought, which has distressed the farmers. There is also a lack of basic resources like drinking water.
“It is wrong to say that there has not been any concerted movement for a separate Marathwada in the past. In 1977, a movement named Marathwada Vikas Movement was headed by Govindbhai Shroff. It was against the developmental backlog faced by the region. It sought development of the region, and threatened to seek separate statehood if the developmental needs were not met,” he said. He claimed that people in Marathwada had started discussing in private conversations about whether separate statehood would solve their problems.
He said that the political class has suppressed the public sentiment for more share in developmental funds.
“Traditionally, the region has been represented by Congress. Congress leaders believed that they can get resources if they are proximate to Mumbai. Thus, they have dissuaded any dissent. Also, traditionally it is the Maratha class which has kept the leadership to itself. If you see the population of Marathwada, you will realise that Muslims form a sizeable section of society here. Therefore, there is a fear psychosis in the minds of Maratha leaders that if there is a separate Marathwada, the leadership in the region might go into the hands of non-Marathas backed by the Muslims,” he said. He claimed that a section believed that if there was a separate Marathwada, there would be a treaty for water distribution too, thus solving a major problem of the region. Marathwada was a part of Nizam’s territory. After Independence, when the Nizam of Hyderabad chose to remain independent, a revolt broke out in Marathwada. Thereafter, Hyderabad was annexed by the Indian government in a “police action” in September 1948. Since then, September 17 is celebrated as “Marathwada Mukti Sangram Din”. The region was recently in news after former Advocate General of Maharashtra Shreehari Aney said that Marathwada should seek separate statehood for itself for development.