Lucknow: After much fireworks in the morning, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly reconvened at 12.20 pm today to pass by voice vote a controversial resolution that proposes to split the state into four states. Chief Minister Mayawati, who had announced the proposal last week, pushed the resolution in 25 seconds by brute numbers drowning the loud protests of the Opposition.
Then, what was to have been a special two-day session of the Assembly, was swiftly adjourned sine-die; and Opposition parties were unable to corner Ms Mayawati on various issues as they had planned. Two no-confidence motions which they wanted to move against the Mayawati government lay completely sidelined.
Emerging from the Vidhan Sabha after having pushed her resolution, Ms Mayawati blamed the Opposition for the uproar in the House, countered the charge that her proposal to split the state was a political gimmick in an election-bound state, patted her government on the back for having done its bit on a long-standing demand and then put the ball neatly in the Centre's court.
Ms Mayawati said her move to split the state had absolutely nothing to do with the elections due in a few months in UP. Her government, she said, had brought up the matter of splitting India's most-populous state for better governance before too, in 2007, with the Centre, but to no avail.
The UP Vidhan Sabha passing the resolution today took the move to create four states - Purvanchal, Bundelkhand, Awadh Pradesh and Paschim Pradesh - a step forward, but there is still a long road ahead. Ultimately only the Centre can approve it and that through a long constitutional process. (Read: Nitish Kumar supports Mayawati's four-state decision)
But for Ms Mayawati, today's victory in the House means a win-win. She has given voice to a long-standing political demand from various quarters, knowing well that it will not be easy to get there soon. And in election-bound UP, the Opposition cannot be seen to oppose this move. (Watch: UP polls a litmus test for all)
So, led by the Samajwadi Party, the Opposition protested instead at the way Ms Mayawati has gone about pushing the resolution and sought to bring no-confidence motions against the BSP today. Opposition MLAs arrived in House with banners and loud protests demanding that the matter be debated before being put to vote.
The Opposition parties have slammed Ms Mayawati calling the move for reorganisation a political gimmick. The Congress' Manish Tewari said, "There is no discussion held. Also, it is done when just three months are left for election. What can be said? People of Uttar Pradesh are not fools." Shahid Siddiqui of the Rahstriya Lok Dal said the BSP leader would be unable to get mileage from the move. The BJP's Muqtar Abbas Naqvi said Ms Mayawati was desperate for an election issue so had created one. SP chief Mulayam Singh said, "We will not allow the division to take place at any cost... since the Assembly proceedings did not take place, the resolution is unconstitutional. We will demand the Centre to direct the Governor to quash the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly."
The Samajwadi Party had also claimed that with the expulsion of several BSP MLAs and their defection to Opposition parties, the Mayawati government had been reduced to a minority. They were also said to be counting on about 40 of her MLAs being disgruntled over being cast aside for the forthcoming elections.
Well, Ms Mayawati, who has 219 MLAs in the 403-member Assembly, will have everyone know that not one of those lawmakers has left her side. After proving in House that her strength, "absolute majority," as she emphatically pointed out, was intact, Ms Mayawati rubbished Opposition claims that some of her MLAs were disgruntled and would go against her.
"I thank all MLAs who fulfilled their responsibility today," she said, adding, "Time and again, the opposition says that the resignations and expulsions of our MLAs has reduced us into a minority government. But by the same logic, as Congress MLAs from Telangana have resigned several times on the issue of creating a separate state for Telangana, the Congress-led government in Andhra too is minority government."
Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh backed Mayawati saying, "Even great socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia favoured smaller states... Now the ball is in the Centre's court and it should do the needful."
Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar said that states should be of an optimal size for better governance. "I am in principle a votary of smaller states... and my statement is not with respect to Uttar Pradesh or other states. The states should be comparatively smaller in concept as the states have biggest responsibility for development and welfare... a government should be in a position to have effective control over the state. There should be a state neither too small and too big in size... there should not be state with two to four districts."
The Chief Minister had announced her plan to split UP into four smaller states last week, arguing that the lack of development in Uttar Pradesh - usually the biggest complaint against her- was based on the state's unwieldy size of 75 districts.
Her blueprint assigns 22 eastern districts like Gorakhpur to Purvanchal. According to the blueprint, Purvanchal will have 22 eastern districts of the state including Gorakhpur. Lucknow, the capital, would be a part of Awadh Pradesh which will have 14 districts. Bundelkhand has seven districts; Paschim Pradesh will get 22 districts and would include Meerut and Ghaziabad.