As the clamour for carving out new states grew louder, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Thursday promised to listen ‘carefully’ to the protesters seeking statehood for their respective regions but signalled the government wasn’t in a hurry to accept them.
The minister also claimed the Centre thrown out its principle that there should be a broad consensus within the state on carving out the new state.
“There was consensus at the all-party meeting held in December (on Telangana),” Shinde told reporters, pointing that only two of the eight parties invited for discussions had reservations.
As a home minister, Shinde has his task cut out for him.
He not only has to ensure that the process to create Telangana is completed before next year’s general elections but also that the protests elsewhere do not get out of hand.
Shinde insisted the policy of creating new states on the basis of language was old hat.
“Earlier, states were formed on the linguistic line. But we don’t follow it anymore, not on linguistic line now,” he told reporters.
The minister, however, asked everyone demanding new states not to resort to violence.
“They can agitate but follow the democratic process and peaceful agitation. The government of India is ready to listen to everyone carefully,” Shinde said.
There have been demands for creation of five-six states in the northeast, four in Uttar Pradesh, Cooch Behar in north Bengal, and two-three more in other parts in the country.
“Wherever workable, the government will take a decision,” he said.
Asked why the demand for separate Vidarbha was not conceded by the Centre along with Telangana, Shinde said many others had made the demand for other regions.
“But Telangana was the oldest demand. Telangana issue was first raised in 1951 and then in 1956. It was the oldest demand for separate state,” he said.
Shinde said demand for Vidarbha has been pending for last 25-30 years and the region joined with Maharashtra when the state was formed in 1960.