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Telangana decision revives old statehood demands
Thursday August 1, 2013 0:17 AM, IANS

The ruling UPA's decision to carve out a new state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh has fuelled demands for statehood from some other regions but analysts say that creation of new states was not the only answer to problems of governance.

The announcement on Telangana - a territory of about 35 million people - has spurred old demands for creation of separate states of Vidarbha from Maharashtra, Bodoland from Assam, Gorkhaland from West Bengal and Bundelkhand from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to fulfil regional and ethnic aspirations.

The All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU) has threatened to launch a mass movement for Bodoland. The All Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union (AKRSU) in Assam has demanded Kamatapur state for the Koch Rajbongshi community. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has called an indefinite shutdown in the North Bengal hills to press for its demand for a separate state. Vilas Muttemwar, Congress MP from Nagpur, has written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to consider demand for a separate state of Vidarbha.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Wednesday renewed its demand for breaking up Uttar Pradesh into four states - Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Harit Pradesh and Awadh Pradesh - on the plea that the country's most populous state of 200 million people was not administratively governable although the real reason was deemed to be political with an eye on the party's core support base of lower-caste people.

Analysts and social scientists said there was imperative need to address concerns on governance of people in regions demanding statehood. With Telangana, India will have 29 states and seven UTs.

Prof Anand Kumar, Professor, Centre for Studies of the Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that the constitution recognizes people as "the sovereign of our nation state" and the Congress had honoured that spirit by acceding to demand on Telangana.

Referring to growing demands for statehood from other parts of the country, he said it would have been better had the United Progressive Alliance government had taken a more comprehensive view of "challenges of internal colonialism in various states of our country."

Kumar favoured appointment of second states reorganization commission (SRC). The first SRC was set up in 1953 to recommend the reordering of state boundaries. Its report two years later recommended 16 states and three Union Territories (UTs). SRC had recommended formation of Hyderabad as a separate state. Bulk of its recommendations was accepted leading to the creation of 14 states and five UTs.

"We need urgent appointment of SRC to avoid deepening disconnect among the regionally underdeveloped parts of various provinces and the rest of the country," Kumar told IANS.

"It is necessary because we failed to promote a sense of political justice among the deprived pockets of India which are very large containers of poverty, social backwardness and political violence," he added.

Kumar said small and big state were relative concepts and what was needed was "a balanced state."

"They should be viable political units with economic capacity, cultural homogeneity and viability in administrative terms," he said.

The National Democratic Alliance government had created new states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand). While Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand have seen stable governments, Jharkhand has witnessed political instability and frequent change of regimes.

George Mathew, director, Institue of Social Sciences, said that giving statehood to Telangana was almost a necessity .

"If conflict continues, development suffers and lack of development results in other tensions," he said.

He said demands for division of states have arisen due to development deficit. "If states had pursued comprehensive policy (of development), this would not have happened," Mathew told IANS.

He said smaller states were better in terms of development but it was noteworthy that there were no demands for division in big states such as Tamil Nadu.

Aswini K. Ray, a former professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that creation of Telangana has opened a Pandora's box.

He said Congress decision on Telangana was driven by "political expediency" but the demand had acquired stridency and could not have been avoided for long. He said size of state was relatively inconsequent to the issue of governance.

"Governance is size-neutral. Many big states are doing well," he said. He said demands for smaller states had more to do with ethnicity and politics and less with issues of development.

With demands for statehood from some other parts of the country gaining momentum in the wake of Telangana decision, the BJP and Congress have stayed non-committal so far.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Rajnath Singh Wednesday said a second state reorganisation commission is needed to look at the demands. Party spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said that the BJP was, in principle, in favour of smaller states but each demand had to be decided on case to base basis based on the material on the table.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has also said that his party has not given up its demand on setting up a SRC.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Wednesday said that it has always stood for the integrity of the states based on the democratic principle of linguistic states.




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