With the Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly session on Monday looming large over the Congress, the party chose to remain non-committal on its stand on Chief Minister Mayawati's proposal for division of the state. The party hopes to benefit from the confusion expected to prevail in the assembly once the proposal is laid before the house, thereby helping it steer clear of taking a political stand on the issue only months before the assembly polls.
Meanwhile, the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo's proposal for division of UP into four smaller states has been staunchly opposed by the Samajwadi Party, which plans to bring a no-confidence motion in the assembly.
UP Congress legislature party chief Pramod Tewari was in the capital on Friday to discuss the party's strategy in the UP assembly with senior Congress leaders. A tightlipped Tewari, however, declined to comment.
A senior Congress leader dismissed talk about the Congress being confused about its political stand to take on the issue. "When the proposal is presented in the Vidhan Sabha, there is bound to be pandemonium - that's the end of the matter. There is no need for us to make public our stand on the matter," he said.
The Congress, like other political parties, has been unable to formulate a coherent response on the proposal to divide UP. Terming it as an 'election stunt', the party has called for constituting a state reorganisation commission (SRC), thus evading a clear stand on an issue that is bound to be voiced by other states as well.
Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "The UP chief minister has said the division of UP into smaller states is needed for greater development and progress in these regions. If this had been her thought five years back, instead of just before the elections, the state would have developed a long time ago." Alvi admitted the issue was a difficult one. "It is not an easy solution; there are economic factors to be considered as well. It is best to have the second SRC constituted to look into the matter."
Well aware that such a step would only fuel demands from sections in other states that have regional aspirations, the Congress has put forward a rider. "Telengana is however a separate issue," said Alvi. Justifying its distinctness from other regional demands like Bundelkhand and Purvanchal, Alvi said the demand for Telengana had a historical context, it was a longstanding one, and more importantly, it was a sensitive issue. With a Congress government in Andhra Pradesh, state in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad was already looking into the matter, he said.