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Fresh Boost To Demand To Split UP, Central Minister Sanjay Baliyan’s Statement Supported

Bhartiya Janata Party central minister Sanjay Baliyan who is MP from Muzaffarnagar, has stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest by raising the issue ...

Edited By : News24 Desk | Updated: Oct 5, 2023 00:02 IST
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– By Brij Khandelwal

The demand for splitting Uttar Pradesh to carve out a new state of West UP has come as a booster shot to the ongoing agitation for a bench of the Allahabad High Court in Agra. For decades, people in Agra have been involved in a series of protests, and movements in support of a new state of Braj Pradesh, with Agra as its capital.

Bhartiya Janata Party central minister Sanjay Baliyan who is MP from Muzaffarnagar, has stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest by raising the issue of division of Uttar Pradesh, as the party gears up for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

After former UP chief minister Mayawati managed to pass a resolution amid bedlam in the Vidhan Sabha in 2011, clearing the way for splitting the country’s most populous state into four smaller states, the issue was as good as dead. Mayawati’s initiative was followed up with a series of meetings and conferences that demanded Agra be made the capital of the new proposed state of Western Uttar Pradesh (Pashchim Pradesh), Harit Pradesh or Braj Pradesh.

The Bhartiya Janata Party today does not favour the splitting of UP but at one point in time, it favoured the division of several big states. Choudhary Ajit Singh and Akhilesh Yadav too supported the division of UP.

It was Dr B.R. Ambedkar who in 1954 advocated splitting bigger states into smaller units. The theme was taken up by socialists like Ram Manohar Lohia and Acharya Kriplani.

But Jawahar Lal Nehru, independent India’s first prime minister, supported the recommendation of reorganizing states on a linguistic basis.

Choudhary Charan Singh, who was also India’s prime minister for a short while, also favoured smaller states. Later, his son and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh launched a movement for Harit Pradesh, comprising 22 districts of Western Uttar Pradesh.

K.M. Pannikar, who headed the SRC (States Reorganisation Commission), had favoured a state of Western Uttar Pradesh. For years, socialist leader Hukum Singh Parihar had campaigned for a Braj Pradesh, with Agra as its capital.

In the 1975-77 Emergency period, the late Sanjay Gandhi almost succeeded in carving out a new state of Western UP with Agra as its capital. The new state was to include parts of Haryana too.

The issue came into sharper focus when Agra lawyers in the early 1980s launched a movement seeking a bench of the Allahabad High Court at Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, India’s best tourist draw.

The central government set up the Jaswant Singh Commission which gave its report in 1985 supporting Agra’s claim for a bench of the Allahabad High Court..

Most political parties have at one point or the other supported the restructuring of the federal polity on a more scientific line, taking into account the area and population, says political analyst Paras Nath Choudhary.

Size does make a difference. For political reasons, the Congress has been averse to splitting bigger states into smaller ones and was seen dragging its feet on the division of Andhra Pradesh. But the creation of smaller states like Haryana, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Telangana, has proved that from the point of view of economic development and administrative efficiency, smaller states do help. “The time has come to carry out a comprehensive exercise to redraw the political map of India,” adds Choudhary.

Meanwhile, people in the Taj city are excited and look forward to a whole lot of new opportunities if a separate state of Western Uttar Pradesh takes shape.

“With the unwieldy size of Uttar Pradesh, the Agra region has always got a raw deal, with funds and tax revenues siphoned off to eastern districts. A new state of Western Uttar Pradesh, whatever its name, will definitely spur growth and inculcate a sense of pride and identity,” say lawyers spearheading the agitation for the high court bench in Agra.

First published on: Oct 05, 2023 12:02 AM IST

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