Demand for small states again

Demand for small states again

Protest for Gorkhaland in Darjeeling. PTI file photo.

With next Lok Sabha election not far away and poll fever already gripping political parties, the demand for creation of small states is back in vogue.

Representatives of groups seeking eight small states — Poorvanchal in Uttar Pradesh, Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh, Vidharbha in Maharashtra, Gorkhaland in West Bengal, Bodoland and Karbi land in Assam, Tipra land in Tripura and Kukiland in Manipur — organised a symposium in the national capital on Wednesday to press their demands.

Many of these outfits trained guns at the BJP-led government at the Centre for not fulfilling promises on this count.

Years ago, BSP chief Mayawati had proposed dividing Uttar Pradesh into five parts, a demand she has reiterated many times.

The demand for Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal had been more vocal.

NCP has been a strong votary of the Vidarbha state in Maharashtra.

Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) has been reiterating its demand for the creation of a separate state comprising two hill districts of Assam, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao under Article 2 of the Constitution of India.

In 2016, its leaders had met BJP president Amit Shah and submitted a memorandum in this regard.

The N C Debbarma-led faction of Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January this year seeking Tipraland.

They claimed that Home Minister Rajnath Singh had assured to set up a committee to look into the demand.

With BJP being in power in both Assam and Tripura, proponents of a smaller state, who had opened a channel of communication with the party, are hopeful that their long-pending demands will be met.

The BJP-IPFT combine won Tripura assembly elections in March this year with a landslide victory, bringing to an end 25 years of uninterrupted rule of CPI-M and got nearly 50 % of total votes.

On Wednesday, the symposium with the theme “New states: answer to prevalent regional disparity and political exploitation”, organised by National Federation for New States (NFNS) passed a resolution calling  upon all political parties, regional as well as national, to engage with the idea of new states keeping in mind the letter and spirit of Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution. 

“The government must evolve a National Policy and frame regulations for creation of new states in accordance with the provisions of Part I of the Constitution of India,” the resolution said.

Underlining that the creation of small states will be a fulfilment of the long-standing constitutional demand of the people demanding separate statehood, it said that was the only way to ameliorate the prevalent political, social and economic disparity among regions.

Former Rajya Sabha MP U G Brahma and former Lok Sabha MP S K Bwise Mukhtiar, strong votaries of Bodoland state demand, criticised the BJP for “ignoring” the demands for separate statehood after promising before 2014 general elections. 

Suhas Chakma, former director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights, Prabhakar Tirki, tribal leader from Jharkhand and former President Jharkhand Students’ Union, and others called for a united effort for creation of new states through the forum of NFNS.

Nagpur-based economist Shrineevas Khandewale stressed that “large state is viable” is a myth and called upon all to pressurise the government to formulate a procedure for implementation of Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution and facilitate creation of smaller states.