“Such decisions cannot be pushed through hurriedly for political reasons”

The big champion of small states, the Bharatiya Janata Party, was left just a bit speechless when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati announced that her Cabinet had cleared the proposal to carve up four States from Uttar Pradesh and would soon get a resolution to this effect passed by the Assembly.

Its immediate reaction was that it was a “political electoral stunt” in which the Bahujan Samaj Party leader was indulging to build on sentiments in the different parts of the vast State.

However, the party was not at all sure which way it would vote: yes for a division of the State; a big no; or just abstain. “We will take a decision later after discussing the issue thoroughly,” said the former BJP president, Rajnath Singh, also a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who is currently on a Jan Swabhiman Yatra in the State.

‘Hurried decision'

“The BJP has always favoured creation of smaller states as it helps improve administration. However, small states cannot be created in a hurry without giving a thought to feasibility. The Centre should set up a new states reorganisation commission to look at the proposal to divide Uttar Pradesh into smaller states, along with the demand for smaller states elsewhere,” he toldThe Hinduover telephone.

Highlighting that it was the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance that had created three smaller States of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, the last carved out of the hill region of U.P., Mr. Singh said a decision like this “cannot be pushed through in a hurry for purely political reasons”.

‘Political stunt'

Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar was blunt. “We see it as a political stunt just before the scheduled Assembly election to win some sympathy votes from those who have been agitating for separate states,” he said.

The BJP had given lukewarm support to the call by Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal for a separate Harit Pradesh to be carved out of the more prosperous western part of the State for a brief period when the BJP took the RLD as an alliance partner. But it was never with any enthusiasm.

The BJP, which is looking to regain some of its lost electoral glory in this most populous State, is hoping, just a little, that Ms. Mayawati's “political stunt” would shatter whatever hopes the Congress may have had in the Bundelkhand region (that covers parts of U.P. and Madhya Pradesh) where Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was credited with being instrumental in getting a special package for the impoverished region.

Congress' loss, BJP's gain

A party leader said: “Mayawati has gone a step ahead of the special package concept. As a political stunt, it is a good one. And if the Congress loses a bit here, the BJP could gain just a little.”

As for Ms. Mayawati's motive for making this announcement, the BJP is of the view that since the BSP's stronghold is U.P, creation of several states out of U.P. would help her retain power in one or more of these states. “After all, she knows she cannot remain in power in U.P. forever.”

And if she does manage a victory for her party in several states in the future (once these states are carved out), that would make her a big political player not confined to just one state.

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