Chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati's proposal to divide Uttar Pradesh into four smaller states has put the Congress in a quandary.
Mayawati's announcement on splitting UP into Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Awadh Pradesh and Paschim Pradesh came a day after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi aggressively launched his party's campaign for the 2012 assembly elections in the state.
Caught unawares, the party will find it difficult to elucidate its stand on the creation of new states, particularly at a time when the assembly elections are fast approaching.
As the power to create new states is vested in the Centre, the move has further complicated matters for the Congress-led UPA government, which is already in a fix over the demand for creating Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh.
Party managers also apprehend Mayawati could take the entire credit if her proposal was accepted and that could eventually upset the poll outcome for the party.
But at the same time, the Congress will find it tough to reject the proposal, given that a resolution moved by its leader Pradeep Jain for carving out Bundelkhand is pending in the UP assembly. Also, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), headed by Ajit Singh, with whom the Congress is desperately seeking an alliance for the coming elections, has been strongly campaigning for Harit Pradesh in UP's western region. Any opposition to the proposal in the election season is bound to go against the Congress and could also impact its relations with friendly parties like the RLD.
Officially, the party reacted cautiously. "The Congress does not take decisions having a long-term impact with an eye on one particular election or any temporary advantage. This is a sensitive subject which needs a lot of thought," general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary merely said, "We will cross the bridge when it comes. There is no hurry and anxiety in the party to react."
As a way out, party functionaries like Digvijaya Singh have suggested the setting up of a second states reorganisation commission (the earlier one was in 1953), arguing that it was only though this panel that the allocation of central resources to states could be done better.