With the Congress and the UPA deciding on creation of a Telangana State, a nervous Union Home Ministry fears it could lead to unrest and prolonged agitations in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Assam and West Bengal, where people have been demanding formation of new States.
Already Bodo and Gorkha leaders have given bandh calls in support of their demands — Bodoland from Assam and Gorkhaland from West Bengal, while leaders advocating creation of Harit Pradesh or Paschim Pradesh out of Uttar Pradesh, Bundelkhand from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and Vidarbha from Maharashtra are also gearing up to launch fresh agitations.
Conceding that creating Telangana will lead to heartburning in several regions, senior Home Ministry officials believe there could be a spurt in protests and violence in several States.
“At a time when the Centre has deployed paramilitary troops in Naxal-affected States, we cannot afford to spare more forces in other areas. There could be more law and order problems in Andhra Pradesh as pro and anti-Telangana supporters are likely to up the ante,” said a senior official.
“Instead of taking a decision on creation of Telangana with political considerations in mind, the Congress should have asked the government to form a Second States Reorganisation Commission which is long due. They could have come out with some realistic answers to this complex problem of reorganisation of States instead of inviting trouble which now seems apparent,” a former Home Secretary told The Hindu on condition of anonymity.
Pointing to complexities in creating Telangana, he said the two States — Telangana and Andhra Pradesh — would find it difficult to settle complex issues related to water distribution, cadre, finance and pensions. Moreover, it could give a new lease of life to the Naxal movement in Andhra Pradesh that had been on a decline during the past few years, he warned.
Significantly, the Home Ministry has already received a resolution passed by the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 2001 for division of the State into four parts — Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Avadh Pradesh and Paschim Pradesh. The other state demands raised in the recent past include Saurashtra in Gujarat, Coorg in Karnataka, Koshalanchal in western Odisha, and Mithilanchal in north Bihar.
Time and again, the Ministry has told Parliament that “creation of any new State has wide ramifications and direct bearing on the federal polity of our country. The Government of India moves in the matter only when there is a broad consensus in the parent State. The government takes a decision on the matter of formation of new States after taking into consideration all relevant factors.”
According to the former Home Secretary: “What is peculiar here is that, on one hand, the Union government is yet to consider the resolution passed by the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on dividing the State into four parts for better governance, and, on the other, there is no real consensus in Andhra Pradesh over the Telangana issue and that the State Assembly has not even passed any resolution in this regard … This is nothing else but pure politicking,” the former Home Secretary added.
Sources in the Rashtriya Lok Dal, which has been spearheading the campaign for carving Harit Pradesh out of western Uttar Pradesh, said its leader and Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, while welcoming the move to form Telangana at the UPA Coordination Committee meet, asked the government to seriously consider the party’s demand also. Not acknowledging genuine sentiments of the people could lead to trouble, he reportedly warned.
Film actor Raja Bundela, who has been fighting for creation of Bundelkhand out of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, said the demand for the new State was one of the oldest which should also be accepted by the government. “Bundelkhand is one of the most backward and poor regions in the country. Except the Samajwadi Party, all major parties including the BJP and the BSP are for a separate Bundelkhand … The Congress has time and again gone back on its promise to create a separate Bundelkhand. Now we are ready for a final agitation which will be peaceful,” he said.
Recalling that even Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had promised separate Bundelkhand early last year, Mr. Bundela said soon a meeting of the National Federation for New States would be called where representatives from Bundelkhand, Vidarbha, Bodoland and Gorkhaland would chalk out future strategy. Telangana leaders are also part of the forum. “Half-hearted approach will create more problems … it will lead to more unrest and violence which is not good for the nation,” he added.
Similarly, senior Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar has sent a letter to party president Sonia Gandhi demanding creation of Vidarbha State.
“Now when the Telangana State has been agreed to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh, people of Vidarbha will have genuine resentment if their similar demand for creation of separate Vidarbha is not simultaneously agreed to,” he said, and warned that people might resort to violence if their demand was not met.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has also warned that giving in to the demand for creating a separate State in the backdrop of an agitation was a “dangerous thing.” “An impression is going out that an agitation can lead to creation of a new State, be it in Bundelkhand, Maharashtra, Gorkhaland or in our State. What will you tell people of Jammu — agitate for seven or eight years and you will get a separate State? This is a dangerous thing,” he told journalists in Srinagar.