Dividing Uttar-Pradesh: The Opening Of A Pandora’s Box

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Uttar-Pradesh state assembly in its shortest ever session of eleven minutes only passed a resolution for carving out four states from Uttar-Pradesh. The resolution has now gone to the Central government for their perusal. However, we all know, that this is not going to happen that easily for which our political pundits are making noises and parties going for and against it.

Let me be clear in the very beginning that I have no objection of Ms Mayawati raising the issue for political purposes. In politics you raise the issue in the people’s court and it is up to them how they react. Rajiv Gandhi went for a national poll immediately after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in October 1984 and won with a landslide majority. Gujarat Chief Minister used the same anti Muslim card for his comeback. Ayodhya’s issue raised by Advani and company finally help BJP to take its tally from 2 to 120 in Parliament and converted it to India’s main opposition party. So, political debate in India has stooped so low that we must not expect too much from them.

Now let us examine the issue of division of Uttar-Pradesh. One may ask this question as why should we only divide Uttar-Pradesh and reduce it to nothing. Politically Uttar-Pradesh is an important state for every political party and today, if we are witnessing the assertion among the DAlits and OBC political leadership all over the country, the credit goes to Uttar-Pradesh. In fact, Bihar comes second to Uttar-Pradesh as far as Dalit assertion and political understanding is concern. Today, BSP is the only party based on Ambedkarite principals (whether they work on it or not is not the question here but they claim to follow it), which is in power. In Maharastra, the RPIs failed and that too miserably forcing many of them to even form alliance with Shiv Sena. Can we ever imagine a party formed by Ambedkar and on his principals forming alliance with rabid anti dalit and anti Muslim party like Shiv Sena or MNS? Have we forgotten how Shiv Sena opposed violently the naming of Marathwada University in the name of Baba Saheb Ambedkar in the 1980s?

For us who have seen the danger of majoritarian politics, secular polity of India is thankful to Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar for successfully able to thwart the designs of communal fascist forces in the country. We all know that the Sangh Parivar and its offshoots are completely helpless in Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar at the moment as their hegemony has completely destroyed at least politically. The Dalits, OBCs and Muslims are building alliances and coming close. Uttar-Pradesh is the biggest laboratory for that. The second phase of Mandalisation process has already begun in Uttar-Pradesh. It is the reemergence of MBCs and Maha Dalits or excluded dalits. Nitish Kumar played a card in Bihar to gain from it but fortunately in UP, it is the emergence of these segments and they can play their own politics. So, it is second phase Mandal process where even the Mahadalits, MBCs and Pasamanda Muslims are joining hand for their political participation. With BSP increasingly tilting as Chamar-Brahmin alliance, the excluded Dalits and MBCs have no other option than to form an alliance and look for their future.

In this background comes the news of division of Uttar-Pradesh. There is no proof that smaller states are better governed or bigger states are worst. Why should then we have a huge country which is ungovernable? Should not we say that India is an unmanageable country? But then, every small identity that merges with India also gets benefit of its strength. It happen same to the states.

Question is not whether a state should be big or small. The real question is whether the people in the state want to live together or not. Whether there is a cultural difference or a feeling of isolation by one segment of people or not? We all know when Uttarakhand was created, I protested against it for the fear that the majoritarian upper castes will not allow the Dalits and OBCs to live peacefully. We all know how the condition of Dalits in Uttarakhand where no government till date have been able to spend the SCP meant for SC-STs. The money goes unspent. The job quota is not filled adequately and the social ostracisation of the community is enormous even when there is no physical intimidation in the hills. The conditions in Harit Pradesh or Paschim Pradesh are different. This is the fiefdom of the Jats and Gujjars. The Dalits here are predominantly depended on agricultural work. Ofcourse, they have also grown up but the relationship between them and the upper castes is well known here. In the Bundelkhand region Kurmis, Brahmins and Thakurs dominate. Violence against Dalits particularly the Kol tribal go unreported. The Poorvanchal is the region where BSP remained stronger but that too with the help of ‘poor’ ‘brahmins’ so we can understand how will it help them.

It is equally important to see how the state of Uttar-Pradesh can merge Faizabad, Pratapgarh and Sultanpur in the Poorvanchal State though historically they have been part of Avadh. In fact, before the capital of Avadh moved to Lucknow, Faizabad was its capital. Is not it a travesty of truth? Similarly, Agara, Kanpur and Allahbad should be nearer to Bundelkhand rather than Avadh Pradesh or Pooravanchal Pradesh.

It would have been great if the serious issue had discussion in the beginning so that people are well equipped with knowledge about the act. Secondly, do we hate Uttar-Pradesh that much that we want to eliminate the very name of Uttar-Pradesh itself. Third, why should only Uttar-Pradesh be divided? Why not other big states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar?

It is important to understand the dynamics of our political class. Even when the state can be divided for administrative reasons, let there be a state reorganization commission. There are a lot of unfulfilled agenda of the past. A place like Belgaum creates violence on the issue of Marathi verses Kannada in Karnataka. Why should a Marathi speaking town such as Belgaum be part of Karnataka? Similarly, the issue of Abohar and Fazilka in Punjab became bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana. We all know the issue of Naga areas in Manipur for which the state is still facing the blockade. Jammu and Ladhakh have nothing in common with Kashmir valley and have distinct cultural identity of their own.

India needs small states to govern efficiently. Ofcourse, India needs to increase its size of parliament too. India requires radical changes including that in our parliamentary structure. Problem is not just with the governance of state. Our states or parliament is not really representative of our communities. Despite sizeable presence in Uttar-Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the Tharus, one of the most celebrated tribes of our country, have just one member of assembly in Uttarakhand. Communities like Balmikis, Khatiks, Kols, Doms, Nais remain unrepresented. Many of the most marginal communities remain outside the realm of our parliamentary politics. So what will these new state offers to them? Frankly speaking, the new state might reduce the already diminishing Dalit-OBC representation so chances for the most marginalized one would be difficult to come. It needs to change India’s parliamentary system.

If we see the state of Chhatishgarh and Jharkhand, both are Adivasi dominated yet have been dominated by the non adivasis in political leadership. The least said about Jharkhand’s political leadership the best. In one night, Madhu Koda signed more than 300 deals which could never have happened in a state like Bihar. A big state is a challenge for officials as they fear mass protest if the political leadership is sidelined. A state like Uttar-Pradesh is bigger than many countries and therefore the chief minister of the state is respected and is relatively powerful. No official or bureaucrat can take her for granted but all these small states are being run by the coterie of bureaucrats or the chamchas of the political class. The experience shows that they are ruthless in tackling dissent and opposition.

Economically, most of these states are dependent on the Centre for financial support. Creation of new state poses great economic stress. Not only does it need new infrastructure, legislative assemblies, governor’s houses, bungalows etc. Our political class will not live in ordinary areas. In the fifties it was easier for new states to be developed as places like Lucknow, Hyderabad, Madras, Banglore, Thiruvnanathpuram had already had infrastructures for everything. But now the new states will be more burdens to people. Most importantly, in the new state, we will not have new leaders but the same old ones who have been sucking our blood all the time. Example from Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhatishgarh and north east clearly indicate that they have become police state. It is also true that big corporate find is easier to tackle the political leadership in these states easily than in the bigger states.

While, I do not believe in the argument whether smaller states are better or big states are useful. The question should be addressed according to local demands, cultural issues and most importantly economic viabilities of such states. It would be better if Centre comes out with a specific time frame for a State Reorganisation Commission which should look into all aspect such interstate issues such as Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal which cannot be created just out of Uttar-Pradesh but will have to be carved out of Madhya Pradesh too. Lot of issues but if the petty politics takes over then the whole exercise would be too dangerous for the unity of the country. A country like India can accommodate more state and bigger parliament but for that we need serious discussion and a time found agenda and framework of SRC so that we can address the issue in the utmost national interest.

Let the political parties not whip up passion and create a frenzy in the name of ‘small is best’, as it could prove contrary also because at the end the political leadership as well as the working class of each state in India will emerge from ourselves only. Hence , whether it is small or big, at the end of the day, it is we the people of India, who will provide leadership to these states. It is not going to come from anywhere else. There is no denial of fact that people today aspire for more decentralized power structure but at the same point of time, also look for safe guards of communities who have never got representation. So, India need a reorganization of not only its state, but its political system in entirety otherwise, these so called new states or small state will have the same elite dominating with much bigger brutality over minorities as they have been in the past. The issue of creation of states have to be based on demands of people and should not be imposed by the political leadership from the above. An empowered State Reorganisation Commission should be asked to look into it and till then we can make a moratorium on the issue, except the already decided issue of Telangana which need to be created based on popular demands of the people of the region. Denying that in the name of unity and integrity of Greater Telangana will be an injustice to the entire struggle of the people. Such generalization can damage the cause of unity of people. Uttar-Pradesh government’s issue is different as there is neither a mass movement nor a public revolt for creating so many states out of Uttar-Pradesh. Ofcourse, it is good that Ms Mayawati has given it a serious thought but it is equally important that the issue be debated widely and should not be resolved without a State Reorganisation Commission as the stake holders are not just in Uttar-Pradesh but also in other states.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a human rights activist



Narendra Modi fast is farce


It is disappointing and shameful the way BJP and some of its allies have exhibited their support for Narendra Modi’s fast for ‘atma shuddhi’ and ‘sadbhavna’. Gujarat Congress leader Shankar Singh Vaghela has also gone on fast though without much notice of the media. Vaghela comes from the Hindutva background and understand very well the tricks of the game. Those who have read the Supreme Court order know it well that it has given instruction to authorities to file cases as per the SIT report. There is every option for the people to again go the court and seek justice if the local authorities in Gujarat again try to subvert justice. However, the issue here is much bigger and the way the entire game is being played, it has wider political repercussions too and need political understanding of the entire game.

While every political party is free to go for its political campaign and can approach any community in India, however there are a few questions before that. In a democratic society there is no space for fasting which is nothing but an act of blackmail and side tracking the real issues. Therefore political battles have to be fought politically and not through apolitical blackmails. Fasting is nothing but re-imposition of the brahmanical values on India. Right from the period of Gandhi all the symbols adopted and exhibited for fasting are brahmanical and widely open to interpretation without saying directly. The war cries during these fasts are so loud that any one who oppose them genuinely face threat of physical intimidation. So, the non violent fasts are actually more violent than the physical violence as they expose your vulnerability.

Anyone who has seen the ‘progress’ and ‘peace’ in Gujarat can vouch for Narendra Modi. Gujarat is a very prosperous state and there is little doubt about that. But this is also a fact that it was so much before Narendra Modi as dominant Gujaratis are business mind and they have succeeded in their business world over. But has the business mind in Gujarat really brought a change in the ‘mindset’ of common Gujarati which Narendra Modi and others in the Sangh Parivar boast so much? Can we say that Gujarat is a state which has no discrimination and every body live in peace? Yes, because the Gujarat which Narendra Modi boast and develop actually is a Gujarat of Varna Vyavastha, of caste system and none of them have the courage to stand against that. If we ask these questions and make a checklist then the reality would exactly the opposite. Are inter caste marriages common in Gujarat and the answer is a big no. Similarly, we all know the fate of people marrying beyond their religious identity. So what has changed in Gujrat Mr Modi? Yes, all the Babas, and Sadhus are more popular than ever in Gujarat. The sas-bahus idiocies are too popular in Gujarat and therefore bollywood jump in that market.

If you compare Gujarat with Punjab then the differences will be sharp. Gujarati’s are businessmen but by heart not as open as the Sikhs. Sikhs also prospered and traveled world over like Gujaratis have much wider community sense than Gujaratis. They have also developed business and entrepreneurship. But see the difference. The progress in Punjab is over all and inclusive while in Gujarat it is exclusive and those living in margins are still living the same way. Today, the Dalits in Punjab whether it is the Mazhabis or Ravidasis are much better and liberated than their counterparts in Gujarat. Go to any Dalit basti in Gujarat particularly the Valmikis and you can hear the story of the racial prejudices in Gujarat.  In Punjab too they face discrimination against the vary tenants of Guru Granth Saheb yet Dalits retaliate in Punjab. They have their own Gurudwaras and strong community leadership has emerged.

Gujarat is not just Anand, Ahmedabad, Baroda or Surat. Gujarat is also Kheda, Porbandar, Kutchch and other tribal regions. Ask those regions about the changes and you will realize it.

Narendra Modi claims that there were no communal riots in Gujarat since 2002. Yes, there could not have been as the entire state machinery was used so much against the minorities that their life became hell and economy totally collapsed. It take time to rebuild in a state where a complete economic embargo was put on Muslims and Christians. Don’t we know that before the Muslim became direct target of the Hindutva brigade, it were the Christians, their churches and institutions that came under sharp attack from the Hindutva gangs who had clearly got state patronage.

Gujarat is very unfortunate in many way. Unfortunate because the cocktail of corporate and religion is working wonder in Gujarat. The powerful upper castes in Gujarat are more than ever powerful. They have migrated abroad. The condition of Dalits and tribal is so bad that none of them have power to stand up at the moment. Most of them have either state government jobs or at maximum private jobs owned by Patels, Sidhis and Jains whose political sympathies with Hindutva are well known to be described here. The Dalits even if they want to revolt may not be able to do so under the grave economic pressure. That has happened in a very systematic way. Whenever the Dalits organize their rallies and programme, their activities are watched and observed and later they are isolated. The economic dependency has hampered their movement for a different political understanding other than the upper caste parties of Congress and BJP. Muslims in Gujarat seems not to have any other option than switching their loyalty here and there as their condition is the worst.

Modi’s supporters are proposing Gujarat model for development. One does not know in which world they love. Can Gujarat be really called a developed state? A good state for investment and a better governed state are two different dynamics. If Gujarat is so good that every international company are vying to be here then why the Gujaratis living in Africa, Europe and Americas come back to their original land and restrengthen it. Why they still need to go abroad to earn much.

Gujarat riots were engineered to break the backbone of Muslim business. It is the basic tendency of the Hindutva protagonists to engineer riots where the Muslims had a sizeable business presence and the result from various communal riots reflect that. The isolation of Muslims in Gujarat was complete. If peace comes at the cost of leaving in submission and subjugation then Modi and his fanatic friends must understand that it will not be. Injustice anywhere is a threat to peace. If people are unable to get justice in the political set up then obviously it breed communalism on both the sides.

Today, Narendra Modi condemns communalism and caste-ism. He blames the policy of appeasement in the past sixty years. The fact is that India has been ruled by the upper caste upper elite during all these years Mr. Modi. And if he means that Indian state has appeased Muslims and given some thing special then Modi must understand that Muslims face the worst form of discrimination in the government jobs and private corporations. Even taking a house on rent is difficult to get and finally the person has to find the ‘Muslim’ locality’. Such ghettosiation helps the communal politicians and their leaders as the more the communication gap between the two communities the bigger the business of these loud mouths who shout at each other posing a threat from the opposing sides.

There is no denying the fact that India need to move forward. And for it the shortsighted policies must go. For this, the tamasha of fasting must stop. All these fast are meant against some one. Most of these fast are done by the caste Hindus to regain and retain their leadership and stop the others from gaining any right. Gandhi’s fast against untouchability was a betrayal to Ambedkar’s struggle for social justice and Dalits which he so valiantly fought. Anna’s fast looked intimidating to the Dalits, OBCs, and Muslims of India. Now Modi is fasting to cleanse himself while Congress too is fasting.

The political battles are to be fought politically but when the politics is just an adjustment and calculation then we can expect anything sincere from the political class which has become expert in saying things according to its convenience.

In the Gujarat University campus, sharing platform with Modi were various political leaders. Modi say ‘ India is run through constitution’, now this is another statement. Why any one has to host tricolor in India or say Vandemataram. While Modi’s supporters have not started following Anna, but such tactics are clear enough in projecting one particular community or people who disagree as traitors. When you say that India is run through constitution, it is because you want to communicate that you have been exonerated by the highest court of the land which is absolutely farcical. The Supreme Court’s Judgment has not exonerated Modi. In fact, Supreme Court must take a suo moto cognigence of such blatant lies and misinterpretations of its order.

We all know the agenda of the Hindutva protagonists. Most of them do not have faith in the constitution of India. Modi feel that the past 60 years India appeased to different castes and religion. Modi hate castes because it is obstructing his way. May be true because he is not a powerful Patel of Gujarat and at the initial phase the Patel lobby had actually tried to overthrow him.

Gujarat may be having a high growth rates but Gujarat’s Dalits and Adivasis too want Gujarati’s to leave their caste mind. The narrowness of Gujarat’s caste mindset can not be matched to openness in Punjab which a Dalit can feel. And in Punjab the Dalits too retaliate and react if they are under assault. We can not expect that in Gujarat at the moment. The openness that the Muslims have in Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar is much bigger than the peace of Gujarat. The blending of Muslims in the Ganga Jamuni culture is tremendous and despite all problems they too can retaliate when time comes. If Modi say that there were no curfew in Gujarat it is because the social ostracisation of marginalized communities in Gujarat completed with Modi. Along with Modi all the Gujaratis should atone for their caste mind. Gujarati’s want to enjoy liberty and freedom elsewhere but they do not want to give the same in their own state Mr Modi. So, these tamasha being oraganised in Gujarat will serve little purpose.

The problem of Gujarat is multifold. The oppression and control of the poor of Gujarat is complete. They will revolt against the elite of Gujarat who have Modi as their hero. That day is not far over. The so-called governance will then crumble. As far as the media is concern, the least say about them is the best. They were the most fascinating observer of YSR Rajshekar Reddy, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and today they can see YSR and his corrupt regime. So, Modi is good for them as he serves their interest. Let us ask a question to Modi what radical changes has he made in the lives of a common Gujarati? What is the standard of an ordinary road transport bus of Gujarat? Is it a better transport service than Rajasthan or Haryana? What about the college education in Gujarat? Is it providing better research than others? Yes, Gujarat is have business mind and that is why they can claim to have an IIM in Ahemdabad and one for the rural development in Anand. But what about the common education in school? What about the Panchayats in Gujarat?

Finally, Mr Modi, so many people were arrested under POTA in Gujrat, particularly in Godhra. I have visited those families and seen their pain. Old, young, visually impaired, we have seen people virtually living in deep dejection and isolation. How will they get justices who are in jail without any trial? How will people react if so many people without trials are in your jails on the one side while on the other side those who should have been behind the bar, are enjoying the fruits of power.

Yes, Mr Modi, caste was not discovered sixty years ago. It is a heritage that you feel proud. All those rishis, munis, sadhus and sanyasis that you bring on your stage and shout Bharat Mata ki Jaya are afraid of caste. They know it better that today thank to constitution of India these people are now standing up and reacting. Yes, Ambedkar’s constitution have given them power, understanding that in democracy number matters and it is here all the good friends of Narendra Modi are afraid of. Not of Modi but so-called opponents are also afraid of that weapon as the real threat to India according to them, does not come from Pakistan but the assertion of Dalit Bahujan. It is actually this feeling which is disturbing India’s ruling elite whether it is Kapil Sibol or Chidambaram or Jayalalitha-Advani and Modi. In this historic war, Muslims are simply becoming the tool to be used. They have to decide which side of the war are they on. It is not a war between Congress or BJP. It is actually a war between India’s minority upper caste elite and those who have suffered India caste based hidden apartheid. The power elite in India is desperate at the moment and looking for some savior such as Anna Hazare or Narendra Modi. Fortunately, India is such a diverse and huge country that despite all the propaganda material at their disposal they know it well, things are not that simple which our news channels want us to believe. Yes, India’s poor understand all these forces much better than those who make their opinion through TV channels. This desperation will not work. The upper caste upper elite in India need to believe in democratic set up and not try to subvert it through desperate means as end of democracy will only open caste anarchy in India. Let us not allow India to go the Afghanistan way by such short sighted policies of ignoring important division and genuinely addressing those issues. For the sake of a few leaders, a country’s unity cannot be put on stake. Coming days are more challenging for India as we need to see whether the perpetrators of crime will be punished as per law of the land or will they use this opportunity to take power in their own hands in the name of people’s verdict by creating hysterical situation and total polarization on religious line. The idea of India is under the threat.