Mayawati is no empress yet. But the 2007 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh had elevated her to the level of a chieftain. With elections round the corner, she has seized the initiative by calling for dismantling the very state that gave her a comfortable majority. So why has Behenji initiated the process of splitting UP into four new states? To begin with, she knows that there is no way that new states will be formed immediatel, while the resolution will enable her to seek votes in the name of the promised lands.
Beyond this short-term electoral strategy lies a larger gameplan. The Bahujan Samaj Party—like most other political parties with political influence restricted to a state or two—has been a closely-held organisation where the writ of the ‘leader’ runs large. In UP, the party and government are synonymous with each other. By initiating the formation of smaller states in place of the behemoth, Mayawati has indicated that her sights are now set beyond the state.
She can neither be chief minister of all the four new states nor will she be content with being CM of just one state. Clearly, she is envisioning a bigger role for herself beyond today’s UP. With this move, Mayawati has indicated that she is prepared for regional chieftains to emerge in the party. Purely from the point of democratising Indian political parties, this is a positive outcome.
She has also made this move because she realises that states will only become smaller in years to come. Instead of regional satraps being firmly entrenched in a single state—as they are now—they will henceforth have to wield political influence spread over a clutch of states to emerge as gamechangers at the Centre in the coalition era.
The manner in which the Centre has (mis)handled the Telangana issue has only upped the ante of votaries of smaller states. Movements for a separate Vidarbha, Marathwada, Saurashtra, Mithilanchal, Bhojpur, Coorg and several more are just waiting for the right moment to kick off and add to the ongoing agitation for Gorkhaland.
The matter of reorganisation of states has engaged the political leadership from the time of Independence. The Constituent Assembly even appointed a committee and this was followed by the Nehru government’s decision in 1953 to establish the States Reorganisation Commission (SRC) whose report formed the basis of redrawing India’s political map in 1956 and again in 1960. There were several contradictions—and unresolved issues—in the SRC report. This has been evident in the manner in which states were recast periodically—the latest being in 2000 when Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh were formed.
Unfortunately, the SRC did not sufficiently examine the option of restructuring UP given its identity as ‘heartland’ and the belief that whoever governed the state would rule India. The Congress clearly did not wish to restructure UP, given its political hegemony in the state. Even when Uttarakhand was hived off, few questions were raised about the historical falsity of UP.
The behemoth was established as an administrative entity because of the colonial conquest of what was initially called Upper India and later became United Province. The Congress did not tamper with this unit because of its emergence as a nationalist bastion during the freedom struggle. But contradictions remained between people over culture, dialect and political choice.
After having dragged its feet on forming a second states reorganisation commission, the Centre must act swiftly if it does not want a dozen Telangana-like situations in different corners of India. Redrawing India’s political map has become imperative as there is no single principle in existence.
If Maharashtra and Gujarat exist separately for linguistic reasons, then Chhattisgarh was carved out of MP for reasons of regional neglect and development. This duplicity has to end. Smaller states will force parties to become more democratic as ‘high commands’ will have more chieftains to contend with. This would be good for Indian polity.
(The author is a print and TV journalist who looks closely at political developments.)
Behenji’s move has caught every player in UP napping (The Mayawati Math, Nov 28). And it’s not her fault. She had made known her intentions as early as 2007. But nobody took her seriously. Indeed, whatever she says and does invites ridicule and is perceived through the prism of caste disdainfully. Mayawati should be congratulated for the courage of her conviction to alter the fate of 200 million people of India living in UP.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Age is on her side.
None of protagonists in upcoming UP polls talks about development of common Indian. All they are intersted is how to carve bigger pieces of the Cake whether Emperor mayawati of Dalits who has amassed wealth to rival that of Mughal Emperor and Rahul GANDHY Emperor without clothes and with RESERVED post of Prime Minister (Remote Controller of present PM) on strength of DYNASTIC politics and India is rich land tp be looted by dividing peole on basis of CASTE AND RELIGION! British have left in 1947 but colonial mentality persists in Idnian rulers even today-WHAT A SHAME!
Every player has been caught unaware and napping. She had made her intention known in 2007. But nobody took her seriously. Indeed whatever she says and does invites ridicule and is perceived through prism of caste disdainfully. She wrote letters and reminded occasionally the Prime Minister of the country. Who else would she move for the issue so important in nature? No action has been taken on her proposal right since 2007. That would have given ample opportunity as also time for everyone to have prtracted discourses on the issue of fourfold division of UP. No, Mayawati is not worthy of importance than the piece of paper that contained her proposal.
The famous and celebrated son and leaders, who represented the State of UP, seem to have done too little. Notwithstanding the fact that UP had been languishing in poverty squalor and misery ever since, the long row of Prime Ministers---Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Charan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandra Sekhar Singh and Atal Behari Bajpai were jewels in Crown, hailed and eulogized nationally and internationally. Why they didn't do enought to pull the state out of the deplorable status? That should have been shinniest of the states with so many PM from UP.
Blaming Mayawati seems to be a favourite pastime of the urban India. She should be congratulated for the courage of her conviction to alter the fate of 200 million people of India living there. Didn't Rahul Gandhi say the other day how long people from UP would go the Maharashtra, Delhi etc. with begging bowl?
Let me start by saying I am a huge supporter of smaller states (was part of one long agitation); but the haste of Mayawati is not right.
One look for many things from an ideal leader:
good (if not great) communicator.
I am slowly becoming a fan of Mayawati, for her political skills. Only wished if she had a vision. Till now all I see is, purses, statues and Ambedkar.
Mayawati is an animal that has its ears to the ground. Her devilish calculations rarely go wrong. She has surcharged the atmosphere with her seemingly bizarre demand of carving UP into four states that sounds like she is cutting her own throat. Most of the aam admi dulled by a sense of a new state being born fervour would now be talking about Bhenji's largesse rather then venting his anger against Mayawati's gross misgovernance and misbehaviour of erecting statues. So to that extent he will be dulled into a sense of complacence. Nor will this help the opposition parties like the Congress as the UPites are very suspicious about Sonia's bunch of thugs who have looted all they could the exchequer and allowed Jihadis to breed like worms.
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