Rahul proposes, Maya disposes

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  • Published 3.08.09

Lucknow, Aug. 3: Chief minister Mayavati today took Rahul Gandhi’s proposal of setting up a Bundelkhand development authority to the Assembly and got a resolution passed against it, setting the stage for a bitter battle over the heartland region.

During his meeting with the Prime Minister last week, the Congress general secretary had sought a package of Rs 8,000 crore for backward, drought-affected Bundelkhand, and suggested that a development authority be set up and funds for the region’s uplift be sent there directly.

The proposal has kicked up a row as Bundelkhand, which Rahul is focusing on and had toured extensively in 2007, happens to be an old bastion of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

But the Congress was taken aback by the BSP-led regime’s move and, by the time it sensed what was happening, the resolution had been passed by voice vote in the 403-member House where the government enjoys the support of over 220 MLAs.

Political observers, however, said the resolution may not be able to stop the Centre from setting up the authority as Parliament could come up with a development body for a region if it concerns the interests of more than one state.

Among the 12 districts that make up Bundelkhand, seven are in Uttar Pradesh and the rest fall in Madhya Pradesh.

Veteran politicians in Uttar Pradesh said it appeared from the Congress move that the party was planning to carve out a separate state that would include these backward districts where prolonged drought has added to the misery of lack of development.

Mayavati’s legislators alleged that the Congress-led Centre was conspiring to impose President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh by intervening directly in state matters.

They said the move was “unconstitutional” and slammed the Centre for turning down a July 2007 proposal by the Mayavati government for a financial package for development of backward regions, including Bundelkhand.

The issue rocked Parliament, too, forcing the Centre to give an assurance that the “federal character” of the country was not under threat. “There is no proposal before the government which will alter the federal character of the country,” minister of state for parliamentary affairs Prithviraj Chavan told the Rajya Sabha.