JUST WHEN YOU ARE RESIGNED TO THE FACT THAT ALMOST NO ONE reads your blog posts, someone surprises you with a comment.
Five days ago I wrote about the bonanza of development Nagpur, “the heart of India” as the country’s central point, is about to get due, not to the long overdue industrialisation but to the enforcement of GST from July 1.
Not one Nagpurian seems to have read it, as none reacted, though links to the blog were sent to many. Suddenly I learnt it was the 100th. I felt ‘UnstoppaleAfterSeventy’ was ‘stoppable’ after 100. So I stopped writing.
Also sent to contacts there was a link to the ‘Bloomberg‘ article about the city. Pat came a sarcastic comment from a very busy and eminent friend (not a Nagpurian) saying I did not mention that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has its headquarters at Nagpur, making it the “ideological capital and hub of cow science and technology.”
The Bloomberg article, of course, mentioned RSS, prompting the comment. I wonder if every time a new road is built in Allahabad or some big development work is taken up there it is attributed to the fact that it is Jawaharlal Nehru’s hometown.
But it is the sacred duty of every “progressive” in the country (as well as those who hate Hindus) to ritually blame RSS for everything that goes wrong or attribute to it any development that takes place in centres associated with it, as it is the ‘parent’ of BJP.
It is true that political leaders tend to give first priority to places they belong to when the choice is with them. When Kamalapati Tripathi was the Railway Minister he wanted a train from every state capital or important city to Varanasi, his hometown.
The Konkan railway was the brainchild of the late Nath Pai, an MP from the now defunct Praja Socialist Party, who was from Konkan region, but it did not materialise till Madhu Dandavate became the Railway Minister and George Fernandes was in the government. Both were from Konkan.
That fact does not make Konkan Railway any less of an engineering marvel and one of the best railways in India. The fact that RSS was founded in Nagpur, that Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is from the city and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was once an RSS functionary cannot negate Nagpur being the geographical centre of India and so an ideal location for a cargo hub.
In my post I mentioned Nagpur being the headquarters of Western Coalfields and some factors like its good roads, night airmail flights and three state Chief Ministers hailing from there. Nagpur had Union Ministers before, including N.K.P. Salve, father of eminent lawyer Harish Salve who shot to fame for pleading India’s case before the International Court of Justice at Hague. But they did not bring the development it needed.
The Bloomberg article mentions RSS with an obvious motive like most Western media highlighting Indian backwardness, beggars and other negative news. It wanted to show that the development was purely due to political factors and not based on the city’s potential because of geographical location which cannot be wished away.
I did not mention RSS as I wanted to deal with it separately and so said “more about it later” which the friend who commented failed to notice. Having worked with Bharat Sewak Samaj I realised decades ago how roads change a village by connecting it to markets, bringing in urban amenities and change even how villagers dress. Economy can change politics too.
So the new bonanza of development may give a fresh impetus to Nagpur’s decades old demand for a separate state of Vidarbha. The city has all the infrastructure needed for a state capital, including an Assembly hall, High Court and Secretariat. After all it was the capital of Central Provinces and Berar. Boosted economy can fuel political ambitions.
The States Reorganization Committee had recommended formation of Vidarbha state long before states like Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana were even thought of. And still it did not materialise because several leaders from the region were tempted with ministerial posts to give up the demand. There are six states speaking Hindi and two Telugu states; why not three (including Goa) Marathi-speaking states?
The only reason was lack of leadership. Will Nitin Gadkari fill that vacuum?