Cong noncommittal on call for smaller states

Praful Patel wants Vidarbha; Jairam for splitting of Uttar Pradesh

Cong noncommittal on call for smaller states

Rift surfaced in the UPA, a day after it “unanimously” approved the creation of Telangana. UPA leaders were speaking in different voices on Wednesday with Congress and NCP leaders demanding creation of smaller states.

While the Congress maintained that other than Telangana, it had not taken any view on creating any other state, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and his deputy Pradeep Jain made a strong pitch for splitting Uttar Pradesh. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was taking keen interest in Bundelkhand region of the state but the welfare schemes fizzled out due to administrative reasons.

NCP leader and Minister for Heavy Industry Praful Patel wanted a separate Vidarbha and demanded that the Centre set up a second States Re-Organisation Commission. The creation of Telangana has fuelled demands for Vidarbha, said Patel, who hails from the same region.

Congress MP Jagadambika Pal, who represents Domariyaganj in eastern Uttar Pradesh, demanded a separate state of Poorvanchal even as BSP supreme Mayawati reiterated her demand for division of UP into four small states.

Congress spokesman Meem Afzal said that the decision to carve out separate Telangana was “well received”.

The Congress has been maintaining that the decision on Telangana was not for any political expediency. But leaders admitted in private that the party would have fared poorly in the Lok Sabha and Assembly election if a separate state was carved out. The decision on Telangana also marks a significant turn for the Congress which had been paying lip service on the division of Andhra Pradesh. Late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, who had a pan-Andhra appeal, had succeeded in pushing the Telangana issue to the margins.

However, after Reddy’s sudden death in a helicopter crash in September 2009, the demand for Telangana found new ground.

An influential section in the Congress was apprehensive that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi may rake up the Telangana issue during his rally in Hyderabad next month. Another section thought that Telangana would top the BJP agenda if it came to power at the Centre next year, thus robbing Congress electoral benefits. HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju was of the view that the decision on Telangana was taken in haste. However, he said he would work to keep the Congress intact.

By giving Telangana, the Congress hopes to perform well in 17 Lok Sabha seats in the region. The AICC feels  that the YSR Congress may do well in the coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions and look forward for an alliance with it. They believe that Y S Jaganmohan Reddy would be averse to joining hands with the BJP.

Meanwhile, pitching for reorganization of Uttar Pradesh, Jairam Ramesh said the state in its present form was “ungovernable” from the administrative point of view.
He said even the Congress manifesto for last year’s Uttar Pradesh elections had referred to a second SRC to address issues related to smaller states.

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