The demand for a separate Vidarbha started from the age-old issue of cultural and historical differences as well as the wide gap between the development of Western Maharashtra, particularly Mumbai and Pune, and Vidarbha. Naturally, as the gap widens, such issues tend to boil over with time if the disparity keeps growing and the demand for Vidarbha as a separate state could see a similar story as that of Telangana. So let's try to dissect some of the aspects of the demand of Vidarbha as separate state and its implications.
Let’s get this legal stuff out of the way first. According to Article 2 of Indian Constitution, The Parliament of India is empowered to admit or establish new states on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit.
Also, Article 3 of Indian Constitution provides the mechanism and authorises the Parliament to: form a new state by separation of territory from any state or by merging two or more states, or uniting any territory into any state and alter the boundaries, increase or decrease the area of any state.
As you can see, if there is political will and necessary public support, it is not very difficult to get a separate/new state. This is a bit different from other countries - for example in the US where a public-supported bill containing the proposal of splitting has to be approved. The process in India puts focus on maintaining the unity and integrity of the nation and allowing for the seprate state if needed.
Similarities with Telangana
There are quite a few similarities with the Telangana case. Both these mergers were opposed by a significant population and the demand for separation was consistent throughout. Though the demand for a separate state for Vidarbha is significantly lower with the issue mainly being raised by political parties.
The Andhra state and Telangana region of Hyderabad were merged in 1956 despite opposition, and a similar case was observed in 1960 when the Bombay state was divided into Gujarat and Maharashtra (which now included Vidarbha). It was, again, on the backdrop of significant regional opposition with even Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar not preferring large states like Maharashtra which are difficult to govern.
The case for separate Vidarbha
Economic issues: It is no big secret that Vidarbha has lagged behind in terms of development when compared with the Western region. From when Maharashtra was formed, the majority of the funds went towards the west and the Vidarbha region lagged behind. The case of farmer suicides is the best example of this and one which can come to bite the ruling parties in future if the backlog is not filled. Issues like this can give rise to public support for a separate Vidarbha in the future.
Cultural and historical differences: As far as you can reach back into the history, the Vidarbha region had its distinct culture and heritage. It is similar in some aspects to Delhi - a dominant native (Marathi, in this case) population but with heavy influence from regional states. The region was not even in the Maratha empire for the entirety of it. The region, which was later converted into Central Provinces and Berar with Nagpur as the capital by the British, had every reason to stay independent as evidenced by the historical records.
The case against separate Vidarbha
The fragmentation: Maharashtra state, as a whole, is perhaps the most important state politically and financially in India. If Vidarbha is made into a separate state, it will have to rise through the ranks to get to the front of the line. In the immediate aftermath of separation, the state will be faced huge challenges like allocation of funds, getting back political power to Nagpur, and trying to fill the backlog of decades of neglect. It can very well spiral out of control if not handled properly with public support. Also, Nagpur is quite on its way to becoming a developed city but the same can't be said of regions like Gadchiroli and Gondia. If a new state again creates a disparity between the regions, it will be a very sad irony indeed.
Marathwada: Now if Vidarbha can be made a separate state, why not Marathwada? After all, it is in even dire shape than Vidarbha with even the regional political leaders ignoring the region. The Marathwada region could well see a similar movement and it will be hard to argue against it in such case. Further such fragmentation will be difficult to control and manage and this presents a very valid reason for those opposing splitting of Maharashtra.
The most important factor needed for the demand of a separate state is public support. If we compare Vidarbha's case with Telangana, the former falls short by a significant margin. Where we saw students and other supporters killing themselves in protest, it has been comparatively quiet in Vidarbha. However, a strong case can be made for a separate Vidarbha if we look at the cultural factors and the economic issue. It is difficult to take any call for a particular side as of, but we can’t rule out a Telangana-like struggle in the future if the regional disparity is not handled properly.