Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati led the chorus of demands for smaller states from across the country on Friday even as the formation of Telangana – the trigger for these demands – seemed to falter for want of a political consensus.
During the day, supporters of Gorkhaland (to be carved out of West Bengal), Kamtapur (West Bengal and Assam), Bodoland (Assam), Karbi Anglong (Assam), North Cachar Hills (Assam) and Santhal Parganas (Jharkhand) stepped up their agitations or reiterated their demands for the creation of separate states.
In a rare instance of a sitting chief minister seeking the division of her own state, Mayawati wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, supporting the demand for the division of Uttar Pradesh and the creation of Bundelkhand (which straddles UP and MP) and Harit Pradesh (in western UP).
“As soon as we get the nod from the Centre, we will move a motion in the state Assembly,” she told reporters.
In Darjeeling, Gorkha Jan-mukti Morcha (GJM) activists launched an indefinite fast unto death to press for the creation of Gorkhaland in the hill districts of northern West Bengal, even as senior party leaders, accompanied by Darjeeling MP and expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh met Home Minister P. Chidambaram in Delhi.
“We want to be liberated from the colonial rule of West Bengal,” GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told reporters.
“We are not piggy-backing on Telangana. The demand for Gorkhaland is a just one and reflects the aspirations of the people of Darjeeling,” Singh said.
Ironically, the Trinamool Congress, which vehemently opposes the division of West Bengal, demanded that a new state of Santhal Parganas be created out of Jharkhand.
“We are demanding a separate state for the people of Santhal Parganas. The leaders of Jharkhand have cheated us after the bifurcation of Bihar (into Bihar and Jharkhand in 2000),” said Ashok Murmu, president of the Jharkhand unit of the Trinamool Congress.
The Telangana tsunami also hit the Assam assembly on Friday. Chandan Brahma, the state’s rural development minister and a leader of the Bodoland Peoples’ Front, an ally of the Congress, said in the House: “The decision on Telangana has raised our hopes. For over four decades now, we have been demanding a state for the Bodo community, and we will fight for it democratically.”
Elsewhere in the state, the Congress itself demanded statehood for Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills. The party heads the autonomous councils in both these districts.
Inputs from Darjeeling, Bhopal and Kolkata.