Mayawati to split Uttar Pradesh, opposition furious

Lucknow : Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is to be broken into four states for better governance, Chief Minister Mayawati announced Tuesday, triggering an opposition outcry.

The Mayawati cabinet decided to carve out Purvanchal, Pashcim Pradesh, Bundelkhand and Awadh Pradesh states, the chief minister said here, adding the idea was inspired by B.R. Ambedkar’s philosophy.

Saying she had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue, she said her cabinet had decided to take it up as a resolution in the assembly during the winter session starting Nov 21.

“We will get a resolution passed by the assembly to divide the state into four smaller states,” she said.

The resolution will then be sent to the central government, which will be required to table it in parliament where it will have to be passed, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo said.

Uttar Pradesh, with an estimated 200 million people, is spread over 240,928 sq km — an area slightly larger than Romania. It boasts of 97,942 villages and 704 towns.

Even as she claimed that the move would help provide better governance, opposition parties accused Mayawati of playing to the gallery ahead of the 2012 assembly elections.

The Congress, already wrapped in the Telangana crisis, reacted sharply, saying a division of the state was “a very sensitive issue” and it needed wide-ranging consultations.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called it an “eyewash to befool people”. Samajwadi Party leader and former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav vowed to oppose a break up of Uttar Pradesh, his party’s political hub.

An unfazed Mayawati said the the proposal was to set up Purvanchal, comprising of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Pashchim Pradesh (the western areas), Bundelkhand (southern Uttar Pradesh) and Awadh Pradesh (central region).

She explained the rationale.

“Uttar Pradesh is the country’s most populous state with nearly 20 crore, which means that 16 percent of the country’s population lives in the state. It has a gigantic area of 240,000 sq km, and that is what makes it unwieldy.”

Only a division can solve the problems and end inherent imbalances, she said.

Accusing successive national governments of apathy towards Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati said: “Even though UP gave the maximum number of prime ministers, none cared to do something concrete for its appropriate development.”

Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi said in New Delhi that his party would not approve any decision on an important issue taken “with electoral gains and short-term political gains” in mind.

BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain asked why Mayawati had thought of dividing the state after four-and-a-half years of her rule.

He said that though his party favoured smaller states, it did not believe in “election stunts”.

Samajwadi Party state unit president Akhilesh Yadav poured scorn on Mayawati’s move.

Addressing reporters in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, he said: “The division of the state will not serve any purpose.”

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