Maya revives west UP statehood debate | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Maya revives west UP statehood debate

ByS Raju
Apr 15, 2024 10:55 PM IST

Mayawati's call for the formation of a separate state from western UP has once again ignited the debate over a 40-year-old movement spearheaded by the RLD

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati revived the issue of making western Uttar Pradesh a separate state in her election rally in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday. She said that her party will take concrete steps to make west UP a separate state if voted to power to serve at the Centre.

Moradabad: BSP chief Mayawati during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls, in Moradabad, Monday, April 15, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI04_15_2024_000090B)(PTI) PREMIUM
Moradabad: BSP chief Mayawati during an election campaign rally ahead of Lok Sabha polls, in Moradabad, Monday, April 15, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI04_15_2024_000090B)(PTI)

While the opposition parties described it an “election gimmick” for stitching Muslim-Jat and Dalit votes together in this Lok Sabha election, this isn’t an off-the-cuff promise by the former UP chief minister, the first Dalit woman to lead the state.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) founder, the late Ajit Singh, had also supported making western UP a separate state and called it "Harit Pradesh". In fact, he spearheaded the movement for decades. The demand for Harit Pradesh began almost 40 years ago. Ajit Singh was in favour of a separate state for west UP for the purposes of better growth and development. RLD leaders organised marches, and conferences, staged dharnas, and attempted to motivate traders, students, doctors, lawyers and different sections of people to join the movement.

“The movement of Harit Pradesh diluted after the demise of Ajit Singh,” said RLD leader Dr Mairajuddin Ahmed.

Harit Pradesh Sangharsh Samiti was revived last month and Ahmed was appointed its president. The RLD is now an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which, however, is principally against the idea of Harit Pradesh. “We will speak to the BJP because it has always been a core issue of ours,” Ahmed said. The committee, consisting of 21 members in total, comprises politicians, traders, educationists, doctors, and retired govt officials, among others. Its objective is to build up a favourable atmosphere towards the formation of a separate state.

Perhaps to seek the support of Jats, Union minister Sanjeev Balyan, the BJP candidate from Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha seat, also reportedly raised the issue in “Antarrashtriya Jat Sansad” held in Meerut last October. But, his demand received sharp criticism from his own partymen.

Jamshed Zaidi, a political analyst, said western UP is composed of around 35% Muslims, 20% Dalits along with Jat, Brahmin, Vaishya and other castes. “Initially, the BJP supported the issue, but later it found that a bigger share of the Muslim population contradicts their policy, hence, they started opposing it,” Zaidi claimed.

He further said the issue of dividing Uttar Pradesh into small states started in 1955 when Dr BR Ambedkar advocated its division into three states—western, central and eastern—to prevent an excessively large state from dominating politics at the national level.

Many movements have, over some time, demanded the division of the state. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party government passed a resolution in the state assembly in 2011 to divide the state into Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Avadh Pradesh and Paschim Pradesh and sent it to the Union government for approval — but nothing happened.

Meanwhile, a movement of lawyers from 22 districts of the region, demanding a bench of the high court in western UP since the early 1980s, also bolstered the demand for a separate statehood. Senior advocate Ajay Tyagi said that though the lawyers' demand was confined to an HC bench, it will automatically get resolved with separate statehood to western UP.

"It is a genuine demand because it's a very large state and needs division for better administration growth and development,” he said. “Maximum cases in the Allahabad high court are from western UP and people have to travel more than 700 km from here to seek justice,” he added. Even though the demand of a high court bench in Agra still exists, it has been hampered due to a lack of political support over the years.

The proposed Harit Pradesh or Paschim Pradesh consists of 23 districts of Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad and Aligarh divisions. Opinion makers and leaders of different sections of society concur that it is not possible to run such a large state from Lucknow. They also claim that western UP contributes to the state exchequer but gets less in return, affecting its growth and development.

Meanwhile, reacting to Mayawati's statement, Balyan said, “It is good but she will not get a chance.”

Congress state president Ajay Rai said, “It is nothing but to consolidate voters through the issue.” Samajwadi party MLA from Meerut Rafiq Ansari called it a calculated political move for stitching Jat and Muslim votes along with Dalit. He said forming a state is a policy matter which could be discussed inside the assembly.

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