Focus

UP: Maya’s move may boomerang

By Mohammad Shahid

Lucknow: The UP Chief Minster, Ms Mayawati, had her way in getting the controversial  resolution on division of UP into four smaller states passed by the UP Assembly in record 16 minutes during the winter session which lasted less than one and a half hour. Mayawati moved the resolution and got it passed by a voice vote even as the opposition Samajwadi Party members aimed paper missiles at the Speaker and held up placards decrying a minority rule in the state and their indecisive colleagues from the Congress and BJP watched on. Later, while the opposition parties blamed each other for the lapse which resulted in the success of Mayawati, a Samajwadi Party delegation presented a memorandum to the Governor condemning “murder of democracy in the assembly” and urged him to quash the proceedings of the House.

Whatever decision the Centre or the Governor may take on the issue, the hurry in which a resolution on as important an issue as the division of the largest state of the country was passed without any debate does not show Mayawati in good light. Division of any state is connected with the emotions and sentiments of the people who get affected by it. Besides, the resources, population, culture and several other factors are taken into consideration before arriving at a final decision. And to achieve this, a debate and planning are required. But the way Mayawati rushed through the resolution only enforces the opposition claim that her move is an election gimmick to trip her political rivals. Also, Mayawati should know that playing on the sentiments and emotions of the people does not always pay as the Congress learnt it hard way in Telengana. Mayawati should, therefore, tread cautiously on the issue which has the potential of  creating discontent in the state.

The Chief Minister through her well-calculated move has not only tried to counter anti-incumbency factor and reap the harvest in the forthcoming elections by polarising the voters on this issue but also to draw long-term benefits of holding clout in the proposed smaller states by sheer power of her votebank. Mayawati knows that in the proposed states her votebank (Dalits) would be evenly spread in all the four states, thus she would have a chance to rule all or a majority of these states instead of just one big UP.

Naturally, Samajwadi Party, whose influence in the proposed states will be limited to the central state and to some extent in Poorvanchal, has opposed the move and is planning to bring a no confidence motion against the state government in the coming winter session of the Assembly. The party also feels that in the absence of a clear stand by Congress and BJP on the issue, the party will get the votes of those opposed to the division of the state. On the other hand, Congress and BJP, the two parties having national presence, are confused. While Congress can neither openly oppose the move for fear of losing votes in the forthcoming elections nor support it because that would create problems for it in Telengana. BJP, which has been an advocate of smaller states and created Uttarakhand out of UP, naturally finds itself unable to oppose the move. But the saffron party is worried that the division of the state will create regions of high Muslim concentration in eastern and western states. The Congress and BJP are also worried because in smaller states more regional parties might crop up that may hamper their upward movement in these states.

That is why the two parties have favoured a reorganization commission to work out the modalities before going ahead with the move.

The demand for division of U.P. into smaller states is not new. Voices for Harit Pradesh, Poorvanchal Pradesh and Bundelkhand state have constantly been raised by leaders of the respective regions. These leaders and parties naturally welcomed the move but doubted Mayawati’s intention in taking the decision in the twilight of her five year tenure. These leaders feel that if Mayawati was sincere she should have taken the initiative in the beginning of her tenure for then she would have enough time to pursue it with the Centre. But moving the proposal on the eve of elections is certainly to divert attention from her misdeeds and draw poll benefits out of it. The Chief Minister, however, defends her move saying “the power to carve out new states from bigger ones vests with the Centre. But seeing the Centre failing in its duty, I proposed division of the state for better management and development.”

But do smaller states guarantee better development because of their smaller size? The answer is in the negative if we go by the performance of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh which were carved out of UP, Bihar and MP respectively. Some of these states fared worse than their parent states despite being smaller in size and having adequate resources and those which fared better did it because of their efficient and honest administrations. The day corruption crept in the administration the efficiency declined. Thus management and development do not depend on the size of a unit, in this case a state, but on good governance and efficient and honest administration. Smaller states may be easy to govern but without efficient and honest administrations, better development cannot be achieved.

Mayawati Government has proposed, it is now for the Centre to dispose. But the Centre is still groping with Telengana issue and cannot take a decision on Mayawati’s proposal unless some solution is found of that issue too. So the division of UP remains a distant dream for now.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2011 on page no. 1

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