Originally Published 2013-08-12 12:46:37 Published on Aug 12, 2013
Can India, in its present state of economy, afford the colossal amount of expenditure and administrative confusion in creating new States? The answer is firmly in the negative. Therefore, it is advisable for the UPA Government to remain firm and refuse to accede to the demand for a new commission for the reorganisation of States.
New States: Small may be beautiful, but where will it stop?
"The States Reorganistion Commission of 1955 was headed by Justice Fazl Ali with H.N. Kunzru and K.M. Panikkar as members. This Commission was appointed in the aftermath of the creation of the State of Andhra Pradesh in 1953. This State itself came into being after widespread riots in the Telugu-speaking districts of Madras Presidency in 1950-52 demanding an Andhra State.

On the recommendation of the then Chief Minister of Madras Presidency, C. Rajagopalachari, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru announced the creation of Andhra State in 1953. The first States Reorganisation Commission had specifically recommended the formation of the States of Telangana and Vidharbha. However, the recommendation was ignored. But the Telangana demand persisted and there used to be periodic agitations in varying degrees.

In 1968-69 a virulent Telangana agitation was launched by Dr. Channa Reddy with his active and vocal deputy, Malikarjun, as his main coordinator. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered that strong measures should be taken to deal with the agitation which resulted in Dr. Channa Reddy and Malikarjun being detained and sent to jail. However, the agitation went on unabated and Indira Gandhi had to make a trip to Hyderabad in June, 1969. She had Dr. Reddy released from jail and produced before her and after a long discussion, Dr. Channa Reddy agreed to call off the agitation. He later joined the Congress and all the leaders of the Telangana agitation were later suitably accommodated in the party and also with ministerial posts in the State Government.

In 2009 there was a spurt in the Telangana agitation, with K. Chandrasekhara Rao of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti as the leader. Students all over the Telangana region, particularly in Hyderabad, were largely behind him. The Centre reacted by appointing Justice B.N. Srikrishna of the Mumbai High Court to go into the demand for Telangana. Justice Srikrishna in his report proposed various options. He said the demand for a separate Telangana had some merit, and in case Telangana was conceded, the apprehensions of the people of the Andhra region who had settled in Hyderabad should be taken care of. Justice Srikrishna also proposed that the Telangana region could be given a constitutional guarantee of a regional council till a a decision was taken on the creation of Telangana.

After 44 years, Telangana has become a reality because of political calculations in the context of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. The continuing agitation by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti under K Chandrasekhara Rao and the agitation by the YSR Congress led by Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of Dr. Y Rajasekhara Reddy in the Rayalaseema area, held out bleak prospects for the Congress party in the 2014 poll. With the announcement of formation of Telangana, there are reports of K. Chandrasekhara Rao agreeing to merge with the Congress and accepting appropriate ministerial accommodation.

The present Andhra Pradesh State without Telangana would consist of the Seemandhra region and Rayalaseema. The people of the Seemandhra region would like to retain the name of Andhra Pradesh, while the districts of Rayalaseema would be known as Rayalaseema. These two states are bound to emerge before the 2014 Andhra Pradesh Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. However, these are not two new states in the strict sense.

While the UPA would have to compete with the BJP and the TDP in the Seemandhra / Andhra Pradesh region, it would face a big challenge in the Rayalaseema region from Jagan Mohan Reddy, who has been in Hyderabad jail for quite some time because of the CBI investigation into the disproportionate assets case. He has to be released sooner or later and definitely before the 2014 elections.

The announcement on the formation of Telangana has led to a series of demands for new States. Starting from Assam, there is a demand for statehood for the tribal district of Karbi Anglong in the northern area of Assam. In the southern areas, there is a demand for Bodoland. The Darjeeling district in West Bengal is affected by the demand for a separate Gorkhaland. There are also little known demands for other states such as Kamtapur out of Assam, Garoland out of Meghalaya, Kukiland out of Manipur, Bhojpuri Prant out of Bihar and U.P. Saurashtra and Bhilistan out of Gujarat, Koshal out of Odisha and Ladakh out of J&K.

Former Chief Minister Mayawati had a resolution passed in the Assembly proposing the division of Uttar Pradesh into four states on the ground that U.P. was a huge unwieldy state consisting of 71 districts. She proposed Bundelkhand would have seven districts, Poorvanchal 28, Awadh Pradesh 23 and Paschim Pradesh 17. Paschim Pradesh corresponds to Harit Pradesh, which is the name given by Jat leader Ajit Singh. Mayawati’s proposal is not supported by other political parties.

A demand has now arisen for a Second States Reorganisation Commission so as to take care of all these demands. In fact, as early as 1997, when the demand for the formation of Uttarakhand out of the hill area of Uttar Pradesh was made, V.P. Singh, who was then the leading dissident member of the ruling party, had come out with the demand for the second Reorganisation Commission. Uttarakhand became a separate State in November 2000. Now that the emergence of Telangana has been officially announced, the chorus for more States is bound to become loud in the days to come.

If the principle of smaller States being suitable for better administration is accepted, then there is certainly a case for a Second Reorganisation Commission for considering all the demands. But where will it all stop? There could even be a demand for a Coorg State after the separation from Karnataka since it was once a separate State by itself with its people having their own distinct culture and way of life.

If all these demands are accepted, in addition to the recently announced 29th State of Telangana, there could be as many as 10 more States. If and when they emerge, it would lead to a huge administrative and financial burden on the Centre. The construction of new capital cities of new States would expect to be funded by the Centre.

Can India, in its present state of economy, afford this colossal amount of expenditure and administrative confusion? The answer is firmly in the negative. Therefore, it is advisable for the UPA Government to remain firm and refuse to accede to the demand for a new commission for the reorganisation of states.

Courtesy : The Tribune, August 12, 2013

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