A pact providing unprecedented autonomy to Gorkhas was signed in West Bengal earlier this week. But if it has left the Gorkhas less than ecstatic, leaders of other statehood movements openly scoffed at the idea of mere autonomy.
Congress lawmakers from Telangana have rejected the formula outright.
“How can anyone equate Telangana with Gorkhaland?” said Rajya Sabha member K Keshav Rao, who led parliamentarians from the area in resigning their seats on July 4. “Population wise, Gorkhaland will be equal to one assembly constituency in Hyderabad city.”Telengana region comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad, covering 119 assembly seats and 17 parliamentary seats.
“In 1958, we had the autonomous Telangana Regional council,” Rao said. “We are not going back there. We want statehood for Telangana.”
In its report to the Centre in December 2010, Justice Srikrishna panel, which had studied the Telangana issue in detail, had suggested reviving the regional council and giving it more power.
K Chandrasekhar Rao, mercurial chief of Telangana-centric Telengana Rashtriya Samity (TRS) also rejected the development council idea.
Voices of dissent came loud and clear from UP too, where three statehood movements are on — Bundelkhand, Harit Pradesh and Purvanchal.
Bundelkhand is the dry, underdeveloped zone comprising seven districts of Uttar Pradesh and five of MP. The most prominent voice for its statehood is the Bundelkhand Mukti Morcha.
“We would not settle for anything short of statehood,” said BMM chief Raja Bundela. “We did not like what they did with Gorkhaland. The transition to statehood should be swift, as it happened in Jharkhand.”
The other statehood votaries too, did not look on the autonomy idea with a favourable eye.
The morning after the autonomy pact was signed in West Bengal, Rashtriya Lok Dal national president Ajit Singh —who also leads the movement for Harit Pradesh — asked the people in Bundelkhand to raise their voices for statehood. Addressing a kisan panchayat in Orai (Jalaun) on Tuesday, he said, “governments are hard of hearing.”
Harit Pradesh will comprise the agriculturally rich western part of Uttar Pradesh, covering 24 districts, including Meerut, Moradabad, Bareilly, Saharanpur and Agra.
Anil Dubey, state general secretary and spokesperson of RLD, said: “We demand statehood for Harit Pradesh, Purvanchal and Bundelkhand. In the forthcoming assembly polls, the demands would be raised more forcefully.”
The Purvanchal Rajya Banao Manch of Shatrudh Prakash began the movement for a Purvanchal state in 1996, which went on till 2002. The area will comprise the eastern part of UP with 27 districts, including Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Varanasi.
Prakash, who later shifted to the Samajwadi Party, said he had stopped talking about the statehood, because his party was dead against the idea. Of late, it was former SP leader Amar Singh who raised the demand for Purvanchal.