Political fever seems to be running high as the elections are drawing closer. A move that could transfigure the structure of Indian electoral politics in view of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Chief Minister Mayawati approved of the division of the state as she stated presiding over a cabinet meeting. The state is to be divided into Purvanchal (eastern region) with 32 districts, Bundelkhand 7 districts, Avadh Pradesh (central region) 14 districts and Paschim Pradesh (western region) with 22 districts. If this were to happen, UP would lose its political clout and its four parts would be behind Maharashtra with 48 MPs in the Lok Sabha, followed by West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh with 42 each, Bihar with 40 and Tamil Nadu with 39.
Mayawati announced that a resolution would be tabled in the winter session of the Assembly, that began from November 21, and it would be forwarded to the centre. “Since the creation of new states under Article 3 of the Constitution can be done only with the Central government’s approval, a positive response to the Bahujan Samaj Party government’s proposal is expected from the Centre,” she told journalists after the Cabinet meeting. The decision had been taken “on popular demand”.
She stressed: “Small states and administrative units facilitated better and integrated development.” The population of UP is 19.95 crore, according to the 2011 Census, and it is spread over 2.41 lakh square kilometres. Her decision to move a House resolution on the creation of four small states came four years after she’d first proposed such a division at a public meeting on October 9, 2007 but then, earlier on, she had spoken only of trifurcating the state into Purvanchal, Paschim Pradesh and Bundelkhand. Mayawati’s announcement to slam the Opposition parties, stressing that their wrong policies had blocked the balanced and vigorous development of the state. And even though the maximum number of Prime Ministers had come from Uttar Pradesh, they “also failed to take constructive steps towards developing the backward areas.” She herself had sought a special incentive package of Rs. 80,000 crore from the Centre, but the request fell on deaf ears. More recently, she wrote two letters to the Prime Minister, suggesting this very division of UP.
Maya’s UP split: Opposition turns Red
Mayawati’s move to get the resolution to divide the state into four parts tripped the Opposition in the state. Now it is planning to cut the Bhaujan Samaj Party (BSP) to size by bringing in a no-confidence motion.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with its arch rival is planning to move a no-confidence motion against the Mayawati government. The BSP supremo played her cards carefully and left the Opposition scratching its head. She rejected the Opposition’s charges of not following constitutional norms. While getting the resolution passed she added that the clouds would clear in the Assembly elections. She added that Uttar Pradesh needed to be reorganised for its proper development and she had to take up this matter after the Central Government did not fulfil its duties in this regard despite the repeated reminders. Also she rubbished the charges of the Samajwadi Party and the BJP for being denied tickets to their 40 MLAs.
Leader of Opposition Shivpal Singh Yadav told Uday India: “The BSP government ignored Baba Saheb’s (Bhim Rao Ambedkar) Constitution and adjourned the House sine die. The government should have discussed the no-confidence motion and then should have gone for voting. It’s a rash step and I do not favour this at all and the party differs to agree. This is a political stunt to divert the main focus. SP would strongly take up the issue concerning the common people and expose the shoddy governance and corruption of the Mayawati government in the House.”
The Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav told Uday India that the BSP’s proposal would not do any good to the people of the state. “As far as the development is concerned, our party and Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadavji have always opposed the move to divide UP, we all support him against this move by the BSP,” added Akhilesh Yadav.
On the other hand, Congressman Manish Tewari said, “This is about time the public decided the political scene in UP. Now they all have understood the politics of this party, let time speak for itself.” Tewari threw the ball into the people’s court.
A surprised Opposition described the move to divide the state as a political stunt. It indicated that she had accepted defeat ahead of the assembly elections. Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari, maintaining that they were not opposed to the creation of smaller states, said that it would be more appropriate to pursue the exercise through a second States Reorganisation Commission. Purvanchal and Bundelkhand could create problems, Mr Tiwari said, as some parts of these proposed states lay in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. In 2007, he said, Congress MLAs Vivek Singh and Pradeep Jain (now Union Minister of State for Rural Development) had proposed a Bundelkhand State just as the Rashtriya Lok Dal moved a proposal for Harit Pradesh (western UP), but the Mayawati government opposed the move.
“A PROGRESSIVE UP IS OUR FOCUS”—Rajnath Singh, Former Chief Minister, UP
Former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Rajnath Singh has an easy charm about him. His disarming simplicity and down-to-earth manners have earned him a reputation of the leader of Gen-Next in the party. Though he claims that he is satisfied with whatever role the party has given to him and that there is no intention to return to state politics. He leaves no opportunity to uplift the rural reconstruction in UP, as was witnessed during his recent Jan Swabhiman Yatra in UP. In an interview with Shvveta Arora, he talks on division of UP by Mayawati and several other issues. Excerpts:
How do you look at Mayawati dividing Uttar Pradesh?
Mayawati’s idea to split the state into four parts is nothing but an attempt to divert the attention of the people from her government’s failure on all fronts. The people in the state have come to understand her politics. I want to know from the BSP government why an important issue like the division of Uttar Pradesh, cannot be resolved through debate. The reorganisation of UP should not be done in haste. There should be a state reorganisation commission which would make a comprehensive report based on the geographical, economic, social and political situations. Problems cannot be solved by the division of the state. Several smaller states in the country are facing major problems.
How is it going to affect the election equation in the state?
As I have already said that people in Uttar Pradesh have become aware and they have begun to understand politics. This time they cannot be fooled. This is not going to affect our party at all and I assure you that we will sweep the election and form a majority goverment. The BSP is trying to avoid local bodies’ elections; the pace of development suffered a nasty blow during the BSP regime in the state.
What strategy will your party chalk out to sweep the election in the state?
It’s too early to say anything at this juncture, but we’ll come in power. People have suffered a lot under the regime of this government. Unemployment problem is a grave issue, farmers’ plight is even graver. Then there are education facilities the state has ever been deprived of till date. We plans to address all these issues.
Are you in the future going to shake hands with the BSP?
Never, we underwent an irreparable loss when we supported the BSP.
Then who else do you have to go with?
We leave this question to tomorrow. However, JD (U) is what we might think of making an alliance with. We will take it later.
Do you think that NDA will return to the Centre?
Certainly, NDA would be back to power at the Centre. We will not let the aam aadmi suffer from price hike, corruption etc.
Don’t you think that your party’s stand in UP is rather slippery?
We are determined to come back as we have lot of plans with regard to development and focus on everyone. A progressive UP will be our focus. We have strongly resolved that we will wholly focus on students, the importance of agriculture in growth, villages and women empowerment. The Jan Swabhiman Yatra has created a perfect atmosphere for the party, enthusing cadre and highlighting the issues of corruption and inflation.
Caste and religion play a major role in UP politics. Don’t you think this type of tradition should stop?
I always agree that politics should not be based on religion or caste. It should rather be based on justice and work.
Are you going to play the second innings as the head of the state?
I am satisfied with whatever role the party has given me at the national level. It was a decade back that I became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. In subsequent years I graduated to national politics. There is no intention to shift back to state politics. I do not nurse any chief ministerial ambition. I have not undertaken this yatra to project myself as a CM. I undertook this Yatra because my home state is in trouble.
How do you see Mayawati as UP CM?
This government is the corrupt ever regime UP has seen. She shamelessly continued sitting glued to the chair despite getting raps from the judiciary on corruption charges in her government. Had I been faced with similar embarrassment, I would have preferred sitting at home to shamelessly defending the corrupt. Several thousands of crores have been spent on erecting statues of the CM and pot-bellied elephants. Even Indian families do not run without a certain degree of grace. She is running the state gracelessly.
Division of UP, No Political Stunt: Maya
Mayawati, refuting the accusations of her move to split the state being a political move, said, “The people of Uttar Pradesh will reply to the central government and Opposition parties in the coming asssembly elections. Just wait and see. And the UP Assembly has followed all constitutional process while passing the resolution.” Hitting back at the opposition parties who caused an uproar throughout the House proceedings, Mayawati said that the opposition was trying to kick up its campaign on a false promise that her government was in a minority. The fact that the house also passed the vote-on-account was sufficient proof to establish that my government enjoys full support and majority in the house. She added: “The Opposition’s criticism of the BSP government is politically motivated and an attempt to weaken the BSP. The Opposition does not want the split because it does not want Uttar Pradesh to make progress. Many MPs of the Central Government are behind bars on corruption charges, but Congress and other parties in coalition never say anything.”
A Smart Political Move
Chief Minister Mayawati is believed to have been trying hard in recent months to fend off allegations of corruption and her lackadaisical approach to governing the poll-bound state. She has tried turning the tables on her political rivals especially the Congress by getting her cabinet to propose the division of Uttar Pradesh. This would particularly put the Congress in a major spot as the mandate for creation of new states ultimately lies with the central government, even as the Samajwadi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party would struggle to find a strategy against what the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party sees as its political masterstroke.
The ruling BSP hopes to pander to the sub-regional sentiments among the people by pointing out that she has kept her commitment to the cause by passing a motion in the assembly for dividing UP, it is the central government that does not want and has been lingering it on.
“WE ARE SUPPORTING THE ISSUE, NOT MAYAWATI“
National President, Rashtriya Lok Dal
How much relevant is Mayawati’s proposal to divide the state in four units for better development?
First of all, the Mayawati’s intention behind this proposal is not at all good. She had announced before the last assembly elections that she was in favour of small states but she did not do anything in her tenure of more than four years. It was Lok Dal and one Congress MLA who had proposed for the reorganising of the state but she refused to discuss that in the assembly. Now the proposal she has passed is politically motivated. After six months Mayawati will not be in power, if she has brought it four years before then the process might have reached any concrete stage. Actually, division of a state is a purely Centre’s right. There is no provision in the Constitution, that a state can divide itself in two or more parts. State can only give its suggestions to the Centre. But it solely depends on the discretion of the Centre.
But for the creation of a new state from an existing state, is it compulsory to pass a resolution for division in the existing state?
It is not so. Constitutionally, Central Cabinet prepares the proposal and then sent it to the President. President only consults the state, and then can approve of it. After the approval of the President, the proposal is presented in the Parliament. Thus the Centre has all the rights to divide a state on its own. But to run the process smoothly and to avoid any dispute, it is adopted that a proposal should be passed in the state concerned. Therefore passing the proposal of division of a state in the assembly is not mandatory, but it builds pressure and initiates a process. That is why I am saying that passing the proposal in the assembly is nothing but is a mere political stunt.
But you have supported her proposal, haven’t you?
Yes, we have supported her issue but not her proposal. We always support the idea of division of Uttar Pradesh in two or more states. The population of Uttar Pradesh is more than 20 crore which makes it the fifth largest country of the world. It is the world’s largest administrative unit. Whosoever comes in power, he makes new districts. Why? Only because it is believed that due to population growth one DM cannot handle a big district. If a DM cannot handle the district, how could a CM handle the whole state? Therefore, we are advocating the formation of small states. In fact, process of division of states has been running since 1912 when Bihar and Orissa were divided from the Bengal Presidency. This is a continuous process. So, we are supporting the idea of small states not the proposal of Mayawati.
It means that you believe that there should be a Committee at the Centre level to look into the issue?
Yes, it is Centre’s right to decide the boundaries of the state.
What is your comment on the boundaries of the four states outlined by BSP in its proposal?
It should be decided by the Centre. However, the proposal put up in the assembly by BSP was only for splitting the state into four states, boundaries were not mentioned in it. We have also proposed an outline for possible division of Uttar Pradesh. But that cannot be the final one. It is to be decided by the Centre. There should be a discussion on all the possibilities and proposals.
Do you think this proposal would have any effect on the election results?
One thing is certain that it is not going to benefit BSP. But it will remain an issue in the elections and whosoever opposes it will be a loser.
Many political forces like Samajwadi Party are opposing the proposal of dividing the state.
They are betraying the people of the state. Samajwadi Party itself has said in its election manifesto that it is in favour of small states and would constitute a committee for it if it comes to power. So it is like abusing their own words. BJP is opposing due to its communal agenda. But it too cannot reject the idea of small states. BJP has created small states Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. How can it oppose the division of Uttar Pradesh?
Interviewd by Ravi Shankar
“This is Maya’s political gimmick”—Rashid Alvi, Spokesperson, AICC
What is the stand of Congress party on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s proposal to divide the state in four units for better development?
This decision is made in a hurry and therefore economic and social basis, and pros and cons of the division were not considered properly. She has taken this decision just three months before the assembly elections and she is thinking that she could take political mileage in the elections. But this is her misconception. Congress thinks that the division is not an issue of a single state like Uttar Pradesh; it is relevant in many other states too. Therefore it will not be wise to solve the issue of state-divisions on the basis of any single state. We have to consider the issue in the national context, and therefore Congress opines that a State Reorganisation Commission should be set up to look into the issue of division of the states. It will take into account the economic, linguistic, social and other aspects concerned and then will prepare a report. Then only can we take any decision to divide any state.
Do you think this proposal would have any effect on the election results?
If anyone thinks that people of this country or Uttar Pradesh are fools then he is mistaking. The people of Uttar Pradesh are wise enough to understand the motive of this decision. They know it very well how much honest are the decision makers. Mayawati herself has accepted that division of the state is necessary for the better prospects and development of Uttar Pradesh. The question is why she comes to this conclusion just three months before the assembly elections? Why didn’t she propose it five years back when she took the charge as Chief Minister of the state? People know the truth and that is why I don’t think this is going to benefit her in the elections. Instead, it will harm her as she has done a little for the development of the state and to conceal her failures, she is making propaganda of four states now.
You also come from Uttar Pradesh. Do you think that for the better development of the state it should be divided in certain parts maybe in two, three or four?
Again, I will repeat my line that this decision cannot be taken by any individual person. You can see the distribution of districts by Mayawati. There are 22 districts in western UP and seven districts in Bundelkhand. There is no basis behind this distribution. Actually it cannot be decided suddenly. State Reorganisation Commission alone can address these issues.
I am asking for your personal view on the division of Uttar Pradesh. Don’t you think Uttar Pradesh is too big and it must be divided on the lines of development? Numbers could be decided later.
Personally speaking, I am in favour of small states. Small states are more favourable for development but again I want to emphasise that it can be decided by State Reorganisation Commission only, not by an individual. You can see the example of Uttarakhand. It is constituted without taking into account the economic condition and now it always faces economic crisis.
Interviewd by Ravi Shankar
This pricks the wounds of the government in power as the Congress-led UPA government is already in a fix over the demand for creation of Telangana in Andhra Pradesh.
The point to ponder is that both Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are crucial to the Congress party and the present UPA government sending a good army of MPs to Parliament. Mayawati hopes to blunt the aggressive campaign of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi with her latest card. The Congress would find it hard to explain its stand on the creation of new states as the election campaign picks up in coming weeks.
Maya throws Centre a Curveball
Mayawati slammed the Opposition for terming her government as being in a minority in view of the alleged dissidence in a section of the Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs over denial of party ticket.
She stormed, “It is a political conspiracy against our government. I want to ask the government at the Centre that if, after delimitation, some of our MLAs are not fighting elections due to changed equations, so does that mean that they are not the representatives of the party? Many MPs and MLAs of the party in Andhra Pradesh had revolted against the party but still their government was not taken as ‘no confidence’, but they are targeting the BSP government in Uttar Pradesh, why?”
The Chief Minister clearly claimed that her government had more than majority MLAs and division of UP into four parts was not a political gimmick, it was decided in 2007. The Opposition is creating a mountain out of a molehill.
By Shvveta Arora