Miffed Gadkari warns activists over ‘pro-Vidarbha state’ slogans

Nagpur: Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari lost his cool when a group of activists raised ‘pro-Vidarbha state’ slogans and disrupted his speech at a function here.

As Gadkari stood up to address the gathering after the inauguration of various projects, around 15-20 activists raised loud slogans in support of a separate Vidarbha state on Wednesday evening.

While it was not immediately clear to which group the activists belonged, a visibly angry Gadkari asked them to keep “shut” and even threatened to get them evicted by the police if they continued to disrupt the function.

The youth also threw pro-Vidarbha pamphlets and propaganda material near the dais and outside, even as the gathering, including Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, looked on.

The police immediately rounded up the slogan-shouting youngsters and whisked them away from the venue following which the function continued without any further disruption.

Later, Gadkari said the priority was to “develop Nagpur as the state’s second capital” and then place both Nagpur and Vidarbha on the world map with all-round growth and progress.

Comprising around 12 districts, the Vidarbha region of eastern Maharashtra is rich in natural resources. Regular demands have been made by various groups for carving it out as a separate state with Nagpur as its capital.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party fully supports a separate Vidarbha state, its ruling ally Shiv Sena and other political parties are strongly opposed to it.

Both Gadkari and Fadnavis hail from Nagpur, also known as the Orange City.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday flagged off a 13.5-km phase of the Nagpur Metro through video-conferencing, making it only the second city in the state after Mumbai to get a metro rail network.