Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati's decision to bring a resolution for dividing the state into four parts in the coming session of the assembly found her political rivals taking varied positions.
While arch-rival Samajwadi Party opposed the announcement and Ajit Singh's RLD cautiously voiced support, BJP leader Uma Bharti raised the spectre of a Muslim-heavy western UP, while remaining non-committal on the party's stand.
Dismissing the move as a political stunt, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said the development was related to the government's intentions and not the state's size.
"It is a political conspiracy and the Samajwadi Party will oppose it both in the legislature as well as outside," leader of opposition in the UP assembly Shivpal Singh Yadav said.
Mayawati stands to gain politically from the move as her core constituency - Dalits - is evenly spread throughout the state, with 18.17% presence in western UP (the proposed Paschim Pradesh), 21.15% in eastern UP (Purvanchal), 25.14% in Bundelkhand and 26.1% in central UP (Awadh Pradesh).
She can also hope to benefit from regional sentiments in the east, west and Bundelkhand calling for a division.
The SP's dilemma is its 8.7% core Yadav vote is not uniform, with one great chunk in the east and one in the Etawah, Mainpuri, Etah belt, which means its base will split. This could mean other backward castes and even Muslims ignoring a depleted SP.
Meanwhile, with former key SP leader Amar Singh supporting Purvanchal state, the party may have to face a campaign slamming its opposition in the economically backward eastern region.
The BJP, which supports smaller states, is non-committal, saying its legislature party will decide. But it termed Mayawati's decision a "publicity stunt" with an eye on polls.
Bharti said, "We should take care not to create another Kashmir. Population balance is important, even if we support smaller states."
The Congress too is non-committal, though it had supported the Bundelkhand demand earlier.
The RLD - which wants Harit Pradesh in western UP to make its Jat base politically more potent - said it would support the move, but questioned Mayawati's intentions so as not to cede advantage in western UP to her.