Playing politics


In its hurry to make a greater political impact in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is paying scant regard to constitutional proprieties and the need to maintain good Centre-state relations. The proposal to set up a special Bundelkhand Development Authority, being pursued by Rahul Gandhi, is unwise and has invited opposition from both the BSP government in UP and the BJP government in MP. The underdeveloped region straddles both the states, with six districts in MP and five in UP. The UP Assembly has passed a resolution against the move. MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has written to the prime minister that the proposal is not acceptable to the state as it has not been consulted on it. The issue was raised in the Lok Sabha by BSP and BJP members but the government’s statement that it does not impinge on the federal character of the Constitution is not correct. Importantly, the government has not denied the move.

The controversy started with Rahul Gandhi seeking from the prime minister an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore for the development of the region and the setting up of a separate authority. The region is extremely backward and has a preponderance of Dalit population. Both states have special development bodies for the districts in the region and funds can well be channelised through them. A Central body which is not accountable to state governments would create administrative difficulties because of lack of co-ordination. The proposal goes against the idea of bringing together the various social welfare and development schemes of governments, both Central and state, under one umbrella to avoid duplication. It would also amount to a violation of the federal principle.

The Congress’ special interest in the area results from the poor performance of the BSP in the region in the last Lok Sabha elections. It senses an opportunity to further weaken the party there in the 2012 Assembly elections by taking credit for development programmes to be launched under the proposed authority. It is disguising its political motive as interest in the development of the region. It is politicisation of development.

Bundelkhand’s development needs cannot be disputed, but the Congress should also answer the question why it has zeroed in on it, when there are many other equally backward regions in the country.

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