Skip to main content

BJP "caught" in double talk: Having supported smaller states, it now seeks way out of the commitment

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
The pent-up demands for separate statehood by people in different parts of India are now bursting forth since the Gorkhaland demand has grown in dimension and effect. Last Saturday New Delhi was the venue where some of these new statehood demand protagonists met. This means that in the coming days, the demand is going to intensify, not die down.
BJP as usual is indulging in double-talk. BJP West Bengal state President has come out with a laughable argument. He has declared that BJP was not against smaller states. But since the proposed name is Gorkhaland, it means it will be a state for Gorkhas. But since other tribes in Darjeeling hills area have no objection, who is the sate BJP chief to object to the name. Since that is not a tenable argument, the state BJP chief has adduced the economic viability argument as well.
He does not take into account the proposed state’s income from tourism and royalty from tea gardens. Take a European country, Switzerland. Tourism gives that country an annual income of 35.5 billion Swiss Franc, or roughly 2360 billion in Indian rupees. Or take Monaco. Nearly 15% of its GDP of $5.8 billion (2011 data) comes from tourism. If you add the income of tea gardens royalties to Darjeeling hills state’s income from tourism, the amount becomes a substantial sum. Gorkhaland government when it is formed can go in for other sources of income as well. So both arguments of state BJP chief are untenable. Luxemburg, world’s smallest country, has Europe’s highest per capita income and has become Europe’s knowledge capital.
The other argument also is not factually correct. One can ask BJP state chief that how could a tribal state like Jharkhand state formed? It is not a single tribe state. Similarly, other tribes in Darjeeling hills besides Gorkhas are in the Gorkhaland movement. They have no objection to the name of Gorkhaland. Will the BJP chief have no objection if the proposed state is called Darjeeling Hills State?
Actually, BJP is now caught in double talk. Having supported “smaller states”, it now seeks a way out of that commitment. Hence, the argument on economic viability and single tribe state in Darjeeling hills.
The demand for smaller states has since snowballed. It is now voiced in as many as 13 of the 29 existing states and in 2 out of 7 union territories. It may be recalled that the British provinces in India were reorganised as States on the basis of language and ethnicity. And exactly these issues have now come up for further reorganisation of states.
The British left us with nine Part A states, eight Part B states and ten Part C states. Part A states comprised Assam, Bengal (divided later into West Bengal and East Pakistan), Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Part B states covered the Princely States: Hyderabad, Saurashtra, Mysore, Travancore-Cochin, Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, and Rajasthan.
Part C states included Kutch, Himachal Pradesh, Coorg, Manipur and Tripura. Jammu and Kashmir was awarded a special status. The British administration’s scheme was untenable in Independent India. Demand grew for new states. When the Constitution of India was being formulated, this demand grew in intensity but New Delhi did pay heed.
It is only after the demand of separating Tamil-speaking areas of Madras reached a crescendo and Patti Sriramulu died after a 56-day fast. Only after his death did the demand fructify and the central government announced a States Reorganisation Commission in 1956 to reorganise the existing states on the basis of language. The Tamil speaking areas of Madras formed the Andhra Pradesh.

Further modifications were made; in 1960 Bombay was split into Maharashtra and Gujarat. Several states were made later at different times and as at the end of 2000, we had 29 States and 5 Union Territories.
Now the demands of linguistic states have come up again. Let us have a look at the demands statewise. In Assam the Bodos demand Bodoland. This demand was earlier moderated to some extent by setting up the 48-member Bodoland Territorial Council to govern the four Bodo majority districts under the Assam government. Now the Bodos want a separate state.
A similar demand is growing in Karbi Anglong district, formerly Mikir Hills, of Assam. This area has been practically without any development and no taxes were collected there. Now with modern civilisation coming to the hills, there is a great demand for development and independent rule.
In Bihar, there is a demand for a Bhojpuri state for Bhojpuri speaking people who are not only in Western Bihar but also in Eastern UP, Northern Chattisgarh and parts of Jhakhand.
The Maithil speaking people want a Mithila state that is to cover the 24 Maithili-speaking districts of Bihar and six Maithili speaking districts of Jharkhand.
In Gujarat, there is a demand for Bhilistan comprising the tribal regions of Bharuch. There is a demand for a Kutch state consisting of Kutch, the Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Gujarat. Till 1956 such a state existed but later it was added to Gujarat.
The demand for a separate State of Saurashtra has grown since 1972 and was initiated by late Prime Minister Morarji Deai’s close aide Ratilal Tanna. Besides the linnguistic difference of Saurashtrian language with Gujarati, the people here have complaints about lack of development in the area.
Karnataka is not a single language-speaking area. It can be broadly divided into Karu Nadu, Kalyana Karnatka, Tulu Nadu, Mysuru, Konkana and Vijayanagara.
Jammu and Kashmir has demands for three separate states; this means Kashmir Valley, Ladakh and Jammu. The language spoken in Jammu is mostly Dogra, in Kashmir Valley it is Kashmiri while in Ladakh it is Ladakhi. The first two areas are ruled directly by the J&K government, Ladakh though a part of J&K is governed the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. The BJP has promised the people of Ladakh the status of a Union Territory in October 2015 and on that basis won 18 out of 24 seats it contested, obtaining a clear majority.
Vindhya Pradesh was merged with Madhya Pradesh in 1956 but in 2000 the demand was revived for a separate Vindhya Pradesh. Since this did not find favour with many, now a demand for a separate Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand is gaining ground.
That is not all. There is the demand for Mahakoshal which has a distinct cultural identity. Within it there is a demand for Gondwana which was earlier ruled by Gond kings. In addition there is demand for a Malwa state which also includes Jhalawar districts of Rajasthan and parts of Banswara and Pratapgarh. The main language in this area is Malwi.
In Maharashtra, there are several demands for setting up separate states. Among these is Khandesh in north-western Maharashtra where former Deccan begun. Then there are demands for a Konkan state which covers the coastal districts of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. Two other regions of Maharashtra have similar demands: Marathwada and Vidarbha.
Then there is the demand for Delhi state, currently a Union Territory. The statehood demand covers the areas of Delhi, Meerut, Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Gurgaon, Sonipat, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida. It will thus comprise 9 districts.
Another Union Territory that is facing a similar problem is Puducherry where Karaikal district wants to have a separate Union Territory. Another area, Konkan, wants to be a Union Territory comprising the Konkoni-speaking areas Raigad, Ratnagiri, Thane, Mumbai, Navi Mubai and Sindhudurg districts.
Kukiland or Kuki Hills used to be an independent state. It was occupied and merged with Manipur by the British rulers. Now the demand has been raised for a separate state.
In Orissa there is the demand for a separate state of Kosal which consists of the districts of Sundergarh, Jharsuguda, Debagarh, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Sonepur, Boudh, Bolangir, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Aathmalik subdivision of Angul district, and Kashipur block of Rayagada district.
In Tamilnadu, there have been demands for a separate Kongu Nadu comprising the territory of old Chera kingdom, parts of Southern Karnataka and Central-East Kerala.
Four states are proposed to come up by dividing Uttar Pradesh. It includes Awadh, Braj Pradesh or Harit Pradesh, and Purvanchal. UP is a huge area and Awadh state would cover over 50 million people. Harit Pradesh is demanded on the basis of the majority here speaking Braj Bhasha and the proposed area includes Bharatpur district of Rajasthan and Gwalior from Madhya Pradesh.
West Bengal has not only the demand for an independent Gorkhaland but also of Kamtapur which comprises the districts of Cooch Vihar, Jalpaiguri and Southern part of Darjeeling area including Siliguri.
There is another issue. Sindhis have demanded the separation of Sindh Province from Pakistan and the formation of a Confederation with India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged the idea and described it as an accomplishable idea. He even compared the idea with Jews having no land of their own and after 2500 years they had accomplished that idea (Speech at Chetichand celebration in Ahmedabad, 24 March 2012).
Thus there is no doubt that for BJP the chickens have come home to roost.
---
*Veteran journalist

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.