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How long can the UPA resist more statehood demands?

Though the government is resisting the demands for now, the pressure for setting up a Second State Reorganisation Commission is immense.

Published: 18th August 2013 09:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2013 09:50 AM   |  A+A-

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Though the government is resisting it, the pressure for setting up a Second State Reorganisation Commission (SRC) is immense. Says a senior Congress minister, ever since the political decision on Telangana was taken, not a Cabinet meeting goes by without Civil Aviation Minister and RLD leader Ajit Singh asking for Harit Pradesh, a state that can be created with western Uttar Pradesh districts.

Ajit Singh is not the only one; the last Congress Chief Minister of UP Jagdambika Pal (who was in the power for just three days) too has been asking for division of the state into “administratively manageable units”. UPA’s key supporting party BSP’s supremo Mayawati has also been putting pressure on the Centre to get the UP state assembly resolution—which she got passed during her last tenure as CM, proposing the state’s division into four pieces—adopted by Parliament.

UP is not the only state where sub-regional sentiments are taking shape in demands for separate states. Darjeeling is burning, virtually out of bounds for rest of West Bengal as the ethnic Gorkhas want to part ways with the mother state. So is parts of Assam.

To defuse the subsequent ethnic violence in his state, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had to call the Army. The Congress High Command’s Telangana gamble, by which the party hopes to make good of a bad situation and win parliamentary seats, may cut down Gogoi’s ability to deliver seats from his state.

Telangana has not just rendered Andhra Pradesh dysfunctional; it has turned the Bodoland movement violent. So much so that Gogoi is not just staring at the problems of communal strife between Muslims and tribals, and atrocities against women as election issues, but also separate statehood demands.

What is worse, one District Congress Committee of his state has passed a resolution demanding that a separate state of Karbi Anglog be carved out of Assam. If such divisions are taken note of by the Second SRC, then what will be left of Assam is anybody’s guess. The case is no different in West Bengal; if Darjeeling becomes Gorkhaland then it would not be long before the Rajbhansis of neighbouring Cooch Behar re-start their demand for a separate state.

Well, inspired by the Congress Working Committee’s resolution supporting separate Telangana, a section of Maharashtra Congress leaders—known as the Nagpur conclave—is asking for the creation of a separate Vidarbha state. Seven-time MP Vilas Muttemwar shot off a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to agree to the V-state after the T-state.

And, Muttemwar is not alone in making such a demand in Maharashtra. NCP heavyweight and Union Minister Sharad Pawar has made it clear that he has no objection against a separate Vidarbha. Separate state means smaller regional/sub-regional parties, which have to otherwise toe the line of bigger parties, can get to wrench power and rule states on their own.

The Telangana decision has also ignited hopes for Gujarat Congress leaders to demand for separate Saurashtra. And, if sources are to be believed, disgruntled Seemandhra leaders—and the billionaires who support United Andhra—are ready to fund the separate Saurashtra movement, just to spite (Narendra) Modi’s “Jai Telangana, Jai Seemandhra” war cry in Hyderabad. The Andhra Pradesh leaders, in consonance with the Congress members from Suarashtra, are saying if Andhra can be bifurcated why not Gujarat.

What may also appear ridiculous, similar demands from Congress leaders are also coming up from neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Former MP Era Anbarasu says he wants the division of Tamil Nadu.

Even from Andhra Pradesh, more demands are pouring in—for a tribal state called Manya Seema, with tribal areas of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts. The delegation of Manya Seema Rashtra Sadhana Samithi is expected to meet A K Antony committee on August 19.

Thus flooded with divorce demands from states, the Central Government may set up a special court—Second SRC—to look into all of them ultimately. Say a top government source, “We are looking at the possibility of a State Reorganisation Commission, but it will not be announced immediately. There is political pressure from both sides.”


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