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UP’s Four States?: PROVEN ELECTION STUNT, by Dr. S. Saraswathi, 25 Jan, 2012 Print E-mail


Open Forum

New Delhi, 25 January 2012

UP’s Four States?


By Dr.S.Saraswathi


In all the hustle-bustle of electioneering, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s promise to divide the State into four parts has gone missing. Neither the BSP supremo nor her candidates have sought to even raise the issue. Perhaps, a sheer wastage of precious electioneering time as there is little that the biggest State can do.  


Recall that when Uttar Pradesh was divided in 2000 to create Uttarakhand along with Chhattisgarh out of Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand out of Bihar, there were heated debates over the need for a second reorganization of States to consider all demands for creation of new separate States and for re-drawing of disputed boundaries.   


The need for a holistic approach to the entire problem was suggested in some quarters obviously to avoid patch work solutions adopted from time to time.  Whether this is an outcome of a feeling of failure of linguistic organization of States or realization of administrative failure of development schemes is anybody’s guess. What is perceptible is the naked party politics behind formation of States played now and then especially at election times –a development unforeseen by the Constitution makers.


Remember, end November, a sudden and unexpected election promise was made by Mayawati to divide UP into four: Purvanchal (East UP), Bundelkhand, Awadh (Central UP), and Paschim Pradesh (Western UP), which was adopted as a Resolution in the Assembly by a voice vote amidst Opposition protests. These divisions are considered to be somewhat homogeneous culturally and by socio-economic standard which is lacking in the present large State.


Uttar Pradesh is the fifth largest state in India extending to 241,000-odd sq.km, and the most populous one with a population of over 200 million accounting for over 16% of the total population of the country.  Its extreme political importance lies in the fact that it has 80 Lok Sabha seats and 403 Assembly seats.  In the decades immediately after Independence when one-party dominance was the pattern of party politics, it was believed that the party that controlled UP would rule the nation too and that the Prime Minister could come only from that State.   


The situation has since changed with the growth of regional parties and advent of coalition governments at the Centre. But, the bitter electoral contest now unleashed in UP seems to portend an attempt to revive the political primacy of Uttar Pradesh.  The election promise mentioned above had come in this context but it would be naïve to think that it would somehow help win the election.


For, creation of a new State is not in the hands of any State government.  Under Article 3 of the Indian Constitution, it is only Parliament which can form a new State by separation of any territory, or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State. Parliament may increase or decrease the area of any State and alter their boundaries.


The proposal under this Article has to come from the Union government.  It must be referred to the legislature of the concerned State government for expressing its views within a given period specified in the reference. The letter of the Constitution gives an upper hand to the Union government in this state-related matter. This is in sharp contrast to the United States where constituent States form indestructible units.


However, this matter is of such vital importance to the affected States gaining or losing territory that no change can be forcibly imposed on them by the Central government.  Ever since the agitation for  the separation of Andhra Pradesh from the old Madras Presidency in 1954 and subsequent constitution of the States Reorganization Committee, the voice of the people has acquired enormous significance in the creation/alteration of States in the Indian union.  This is further confirmed in the case of Punjabi Subha and the reorganization of the North-Eastern Region which is still not over.  


It implies that there has to be consensus among the political parties in the concerned State in this matter. It is, therefore, necessary to honour the views of other political parties in Uttar Pradesh regarding the Resolution sponsored by the ruling party.


It may be recalled that Ambedkar was in favour of trifurcation of UP as Eastern, Central, and Western UP in 1955 with capitals at Meerut, Kanpur, and Allahabad as a precaution against allowing one State from dominating Indian politics by its population size. A dissenting note was recorded in the States Reorganization Committee’s report by a member expressing concern about the big differences in the size of different States.  The States Reorganization Committee did not accept the idea though linguistic States it has created does not mean one State for one language.  It only prevented multi-lingual States particularly in southern India.


A motion demanding division of Uttar Pradesh into four separate States was moved in the UP Assembly in October 2000 a few months after the creation of Uttarakhand, but was rejected. The present proposal is on the same lines of this motion.  


When the linguistic States were formed, the dominant influence was linguistic affinities which also meant cultural unity to a large extent. It seems that this influence has declined giving place to socio-economic development. Language alone is no longer the cementing factor binding people together as the bitter agitation going on in Andhra Pradesh for separation of Telangana clearly shows. Splitting up a linguistic State is now demanded as a panacea to correct developmental disparities within the State.  And for ambitious political leaders, more States mean better opportunities in political career.


In this controversy, political advantage tends to ignore people’s opinion and even developmental needs.  Several cases worthy of consideration such as of Vidarbha have not found political acceptance of the ruling power. It is becoming more and more difficult to align the interests of concerned people, State level political parties, and the government at the Centre.


In such an atmosphere, setting up a second Reorganization Commission seems to be a futile exercise.  In any matter of vital interest to people and power holders alike, it is next to impossible to change an existing order however great is the discontent with that order.  A committee can help shelve decisions and provide jobs but cannot find a solution to the problem satisfactory to all.


What happens in Uttar Pradesh is an electoral stunt in full knowledge of the limitations of the State government, the complications in dividing the State, and the cost involved. A deterring factor is that more States will mean more disputes be it in sharing river water or other natural resources or investments etc. It will be a while before the promise is remade. ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)





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