Home Minister flooded with memoranda from various regions, even as his Ministry monitors law and order situation

The Centre’s announcement of creation of a separate Telangana State seems to have opened a Pandora’s Box of statehood demands. While the Congress and other parties struggle to keep their flock together in Andhra Pradesh, the UPA government is gearing up to face the ire of political parties and MPs over demand for creation of at least a dozen new States.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is flooded with memoranda from various regions even as his Ministry anxiously monitors the deteriorating law and order situation in many areas, particularly in parts of Assam, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Apart from the main Opposition party, the BJP, that is demanding constitution of a Second States Reorganisation Commission, parties like the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), the Telugu Desam Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Bahujan Samaj Party are likely to vociferously raise their demands for States.

Even the Congress that will have to fight on two different fronts — countering allegations of the Opposition, besides facing the ire of its own MPs from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Assam who would join hands with the Opposition parties in Parliament to raise the contentious issue of formation of new States.

Assam situation worsens

Biren Singh Engti — the Congress MP from the Autonomous District constituency from Assam carved out of the hill district of Karbi Anglong, where people have been demanding a separate State — told The Hindu that the situation was getting worse with each passing day as people here were seeing the creation of Telangana by neglecting their three-decade old demand as “betrayal.” Asserting that he was not against creation of Telangana, Mr. Engti warned that the government should immediately call all stakeholders for talks before things go out of hand.

“I have urged the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to start negotiations as people of this hill district will settle for nothing short of a separate State, which could be created on the lines of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram. I will raise this matter in Parliament… I will take up the issue with Congress president Sonia Gandhi,” Mr. Engti added.

Bodoland demand

Similarly, the BPF’s Kokrajhar MP S.K. Bwismuthiary said: “The demand for Bodoland is totally constitutional and justified… the Union government should call Bodo leaders for talks to prevent the situation from getting worse. We are already seeing massive demonstrations in various parts of the proposed State comprising at least 10 districts of Assam. The Bodo people are fed up with the shabby treatment meted out by both the Assam government and the Centre. Lack of development and the unique identity of the Bodo people remain the main reason behind our demand… My party leaders will raise the issue in Parliament.”

Similarly, the issue of division of Uttar Pradesh into four parts will also be raised by the BSP whose government has already passed a resolution in U.P. Assembly for creation of Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Awadh Pradesh and Paschim Pradesh.

The RLD will be reiterating its demand for Harit Pradesh comprising western U.P. districts. “We have been supporting creation of smaller States. Given its present size, U.P. is ungovernable… There are issues related to law and order, governance and development. We have been telling to this to the Centre when we were part of the BJP-led NDA government and now the UPA government… We will again demand Harit Pradesh in the monsoon session of Parliament. We are also starting a peaceful campaign in support of our demand,” said RLD leader and Mathura MP Jayant Chaudhary.

For the Congress, the difficult task would be to rein in its own MPs and leaders from Maharashtra and U.P. who are supporting division of their respective States, while those against creation of Telangana have already started revolting against the Centre’s decision.

“For Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who is also Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, it will be a tough task to manage both the Opposition and his party colleagues over the demands for statehood. As the situation deteriorates in Assam, law and order is another issue on which he will have to do a lot of explaining,” said a senior Congress leader.