Bundelkhand: A parched country trapped in electoral politics | Latest news India

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has reiterated her demand for a separate state of Bundelkhand. The sensitive issue, which has sparked large-scale protests in the past, could force the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress to define their position on dividing the state that sends the largest number of lawmakers to Parliament.

Bundlekhand, one of the most water-stressed and drought-prone areas in the country, is spread over seven districts in Uttar Pradesh and eight districts in Madhya Pradesh. (Vipin Kumar/HT file photo)

While the BJP has in the past favored bifurcating smaller states for administrative convenience and better governance, the party has been largely silent on the issue over the past decade. The exception was the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories after Parliament gave its nod to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.

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On Tuesday, Mayawati said at an election rally that if her party comes to power, a separate state will be created for Bundelkhand. Bundlekhand, one of the most water-stressed and drought-prone areas in the country, is spread over seven districts in Uttar Pradesh and eight districts in Madhya Pradesh.

The BJP has not commented on the issue of division of UP, where elections are underway and three phases are underway. A stray remark last year by BJP MP from Muzzafarnagar, Sanjeev Balyan, about carving out Western UP as a separate state raised eyebrows but failed to gain any political mileage.

BJP allies such as the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) are calling for the western part to be redesignated as Harit Pradesh, while the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) has expressed support for a Poorvanchal state.

A few party leaders admit that there is a section that supports the idea of ​​bifurcating the state into Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Harit Pradesh.

A senior leader explained that the state’s demography, in addition to its population, supports the state’s case for division. But the pitfalls, he said, would create divisions in caste and creed, which would bring its own challenges. Western UP, for example, is dominated by Jats and Muslims, and redrawing borders may not be politically expedient.

The BJP, however, claims credit for the formation of three new states – Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand – in 2000, when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power.

While Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand was part of Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar. The party also presents the formation of these states as an example of carrying out the process without violence and presents it as a contrast to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, which was marked by protests and acrimony.

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