Big fight for small states

The resurgence of the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland carved out of West Bengal has revived the debate within political parties on smaller states. In the absence of unanimity, each political party has worked out its own logic for supporting or resisting demands for smaller – or not-so-small – states.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) favours splitting up states, barring a few, for better governance while the Congress party prefers not to have a fixed position on the issue. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is against smaller states per se but its parent, Communist Party of India (CPI), is all for them – barring a few ones. Clearly, political India has no single mind on whether smaller states are good for the country.
The campaign for Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh had the strong backing of the tribals, who felt they were not getting their due from the plainspeople. Those clamouring for Uttaranchal – also mainly a hilly region and home to many tourist and Hindu pilgrimage centres – wanted to get out of the clutches of the mammoth Uttar Pradesh. In 2000, all three states – Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand – were carved respectively out of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. That success only emboldened the feelings of those who say they too need separate states
Gorkhaland is the name given to the area around Darjeeling and the Duars in north West Bengal. Residents of the area, mostly Gorkhas have long demanded a separate state for themselves to preserve their Nepali identity and to improve their socio-economic conditions.
The Gorkhaland movement in the 1980s turned violent amid charges by the Marxists that the Congress was secretly backing the Gorkhas so as to undermine the CPI-M in West Bengal. Its advocates say they are not satisfied with the limited autonomy granted to them. A separate Gorkhaland would be made up mainly of the hilly parts of northern West Bengal, close to Nepal. Its capital would be Darjeeling, a tourist paradise. The CPI-M is fighting the Gorkhaland movement tooth and nail. Splitting West Bengal would mean the party losing an area of its present influence and administrative jurisdiction. (Sify)


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