A call for the inclusion of 10 western Uttar Pradesh districts into the national capital territory is steadily eclipsing the demand for Harit Pradesh that never found favour with the BJP.
Ghaziabad, Meerut, Gautam Budh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Shamli, Baghpat, Bijnor, Bulandshahar and Hapur – all approximately within a 100-kilometre radius of Delhi-NCR – will be part of the proposed ‘Greater Delhi Pradesh’.
“The concept is more logical and pragmatic. Parliament approved the concept of NCR and included cities within a radius of 100 km to release growing pressure on Delhi,” said BJP MP from Meerut-Hapur Rajendra Agarwal.
The BJP, otherwise an advocate of smaller states, always opposed the Harit Pradesh concept, believing the reorganisation of the 25 districts of Saharanpur, Meerut, Aligarh, Agra, Moradabad and Bareilly divisions would strengthen Muslims who have a sizable presence in western UP.
Activist Gyanendra Sharma, who has been pushing for the new state after participation in the Harit Pradesh movement failed to bear fruit, says the biggest draw is the ample economic opportunities in the national capital region.
“Thousands of people from different districts commute to Delhi for their jobs and business, which has created an inseparable bond with the Capital and its inhabitants,” he said.
For lawyer Devkaran Sharma, “discrimination” against western UP by the state government “at the behest of other regions” necessitates a Greater Delhi Pradesh.
A western UP resident will not have to commute hundreds of kilometres for a high court hearing in Allahabad, as Delhi with its own high court is nearer, he said.
After 70 years of struggle, Uttarakhand was carved out of UP in November 2000. Eleven years later, a resolution to divide the state into four further parts was passed in the state assembly on November 22, 2011 when Mayawati was the chief minister. It was forwarded to the UPA government, but no action was taken.
Now out of power, the BSP doesn’t want another party to walk away with the glory. “Because the 2011 resolution was sanctioned by the assembly, the demand of Greater Delhi Pradesh can't be pursued under the purview of law. It can be done only after the recommendation of the national reconstitution commission which is a lengthy and tedious process,” BSP leader Jagat Singh said.
While experts have different opinions on whether a split would help ease the rising crime rate in Uttar Pradesh, they say the step will certainly improve the administration and governance in the country’s most populous state.