Has Mayawati set agenda for assembly polls?November 27th, 2011 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) Has Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati set the agenda for the upcoming assembly polls with the proposal for four-way division of the state?
Some analysts say the decision has put her opponents on the defensive but is not likely to make a major difference to her fortunes.
Political commentator S. Nihal Singh said Mayawati has lost some support among people and decision to divide the state was “an astute, clever ploy” to put her opponents on the defensive.
“The real objective is tactical to put the opposition on the mat. It is not an easy thing to oppose,” Singh told IANS.
He said the union government has to make up its mind on setting up a state reorganisation commission (SRC) in the wake of Mayawati’s decision and demand for smaller states from some other parts of the country.
Singh said that Uttar Pradesh was the country’s most populous state sending 80 MPs to parliament. “It is a dominant state in terms of national polity. To that extent, it will lose its clout (if it is divided),” he said.
The Uttar Pradesh assembly passed a resolution Nov 22 amid bedlam seeking to divide the state into four parts - Awadh Pradesh, Paschim Pradesh, Bundelkhand and Purvanchal.
Mridula Mukherjee, professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said a decision to divide the state should have been taken after elaborate deliberations. “It is not an apple which can be cut into three, four pieces,” Mukherjee said, adding that a SRC can look at such demands.
“I don’t think people are so stupid not to see through this. It is, in some ways, an act of desperation… I don’t think it will have positive impact on her (Mayawati’s) performance,” Mukherjee added.
Opponents of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh claim Mayawati’s decision had not stirred the people and will not become a poll issue.
Congress MP from Domariyaganj, Jagdambika Pal, said Mayawati’s decision was “a political stunt”.
“If she was serious, why did she not bring a resolution in the last four-and-a-half years… Nobody has taken it (Mayawati decision) seriously. Mayawati has no achievements except memorials and parks. She is trying to divert the direction of discussion,” Pal said, adding that there was no sustained demand for statehood. He said if states have to be divided into smaller units, it has to be done through SRC.
Samajwadi Party MP Mohan Singh said the common man in the state was against Mayawati’s decision as they have always felt a sense of cultural and geographical unity. “People of the state should be complimented for not falling prey to sentiments of regionalism. The resolution was passed within minutes in the assembly only months before the elections. It is a conspiracy to escape responsibility for her failures,” he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shahnawaz Hussain said Maywati had announced division of the state to “wash off her sins” and divert attention from corruption and deteriorating law and order condition. “BJP will not allow it to become a poll issue…It will not be trapped in poll gimmickry of Mayawati,” Hussain told IANS.
While BSP MPs refused to articulate their views, saying that Mayawati had already spoken on the issue, party activist Sudhindra Bhadoria said the decision to divide was “in accordance with the wishes of people and in their interest”. He said the proposed states were viable “culturally, administratively and geographically.”
He said Mayawati had earlier written to the prime minister in favour of creating smaller states and the decision was not “a poll gimmick.”
He said the first state reorganisation commission headed by Faizal Ali had debated the issue of creating smaller states from Uttar Pradesh.
Bhadoria said Uttar Pradesh had nearly 200 million people and its size was unwieldy. “A light-weighted machine can move faster,” he said, adding the proposed division will be the agenda for the assembly elections and people will “reciprocate” by voting for BSP.
Congress sources said that Mayawati’s decision to divide the state was likely to have an influence on some sections including minorities and youth in the assembly polls and if she were to project a Muslim as chief ministerial candidate in the proposed state of Paschim Pradesh, it can swing community votes in her favour.
Those against the decision said Uttar Pradesh has had a distinct historical legacy and is the country’s central core which should not be divided. They said that separate states could lead to springing of more regional parties and contribute to political instability.
Satish Mishra, senior fellow with Observer Research Foundation, said Uttar Pradesh was one of the few states with an organised canal and river system and its reorganisation can lead to water disputes. He said Mayawati should have agitated for a reorganisation commission instead of making an announcement for division.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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