Telangana echoes across country, chorus for new states gets louder
“Bengalis have Bengal, Biharis have Bihar but Gorkhas have no state,” said Bimal Gurung, president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is running an agitation in Darjeeling and surrounding districts in north Bengal for a separate state for the Gorkhas.india Updated: Dec 11, 2009 00:33 IST
Darjeeling: “Bengalis have Bengal, Biharis have Bihar but Gorkhas have no state,” said Bimal Gurung, president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is running an agitation in Darjeeling and surrounding districts in north Bengal for a separate state for the Gorkhas.
The Centre’s decision to carve Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh has provided a fillip to Gurung’s movement.
On December 11, 35 GJM volunteers will launch a fast unto death even as other party members will launch dharnas (agitations) in Kolkata and Delhi.
“Now that the process of forming Telangana has started, we will only discuss the process of forming Gorkhaland,” said Gurung. The next round of tripartite talks between the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM begins on December 21.
The demand for Gorkhaland – a separate state for Gorkhas – is 102 years old. It took a violent turn in the 1980s, when a 28-month agitation spearheaded by the Gorkha National Liberation Front leader Subash Ghising resulted in the loss of 1,200 lives. But it failed to achieve Gorkhaland.
Since October 2007, GJM has been leading the demand for statehood. As in the ’80s, this time, too, the government is offering an autonomous setup within West Bengal for the hills.
Lucknow: Supporters of the proposed state of Harit Pradesh, to be carved out of Uttar Pradesh, will step up their movement for the creation of the new state.
“We will chalk out a plan of action after the winter session of Parliament,” Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) President Ajit Singh told HT on Thursday.
He is planning a joint movement with the supporters of Bundelkhand, another state that is proposed to be carved out of Uttar Pradesh.
The movement for Harit Pradesh, comprising 23 districts in western UP, has been dormant for a while, but Singh is adamant about his demand.
“Uttar Pradesh (which has 71 districts) is too large and, therefore, ungovernable,” he said, adding that “balanced development of the entire state is also not possible under the present unit”.
The issue first came up for discussion at National Reorganization Commission in 1953. Thereafter, in the early ’60s, former Prime Minister Chaudhury Charan Singh raised the demand.
However, it was only in the ’90s that his son Ajit launched a serious movement for the creation of Harit Pradesh.
This movement, which has been dormant for the past few years, has never been violent. However, RLD leaders say hundreds of thousands of students, lawyers and farmers support their movement.
“We want peaceful acceptance of our demand,” Singh said. “The government should not test our patience”.
Nagpur: Following the Centre’s decision to create a separate Telangana state, the demand for carving Vidarbha state from Maharashtra has resurfaced, though there is no political consensus on the issue.
On Thursday, Congress MPs Vilas Muttemwar (Nagpur) and Datta Meghe (Wardha) tabled a demand for Vidarbha state, comprising 11 districts of Maharashtra.
But there was opposition within the party. Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told the media that he was in favour of a unified Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena, too, strongly opposed the demand. “We want a unified Maharashtra. Those who want to split the state should be ready to face the consequences of their action,” said MP Sanjay Raut.
The BJP was the only party that came out in support of the proposed Vidarbha state, while the Nationalist Congress Party’s state chief Madhukar Pichad said his party would announce its stand after discussing the issue internally.
Vidarbha, which is rich in minerals, coal and forests, is part of the cotton growing belt, but is plagued by poverty and malnutrition. About 70 per cent of the 32,000 farmer suicides in Maharashtra over the last decade have taken place in this region.
The demand for a separate Vidarbha was first raised in 1956 by Bapuji Aney and Brijlal Briyani of Vidarbha Mahavidarbha Andolan Samiti.
Lucknow: Not many know this, but Bundelkhand had been a separate state at the time of Independence. Its first and only Chief Minister was Kamta Prasad Saxena.
But in 1949, it was split into two and merged with Uttar Pradesh and Central Provinces (which preceded Madhya Pradesh).
Today, the region ranks among the poorest in the country, and ranks among the worst on the human development index. It is in the news mainly for droughts and the suicides and human trafficking that have become the norm.
“Bundelkhand is a distinct agro-climatic zone and needs a region-specific agricultural policy. But UP and MP impose a their one-size-fits-all policies on it, resulting in droughts, failed crops, poverty and a feeling of neglect,” said Ganga Charan Rajput, a two time Member of Parliament who has just joined Bahujan Samaj Party.
S.L. Mehortara, who founded Bundelkhand Mukti Morch (BMM), first raised the demand for a separate state in 1989, soon after yet another drought. This demand has gathered momentum following repeated droughts over the last 10 years.
Rajput said: “Bundelkhand must become a separate state now. UP is too big for administration and governance.” Congress MP from Jhansi, Pradeep Jain had said when he was an MLA: “It is unfair and an injustice to keep the region divided between two states.”