The Idea of Smaller States

Posted on May 17, 2010 in Politics at Play

Raghav Parthasarathy:

Over the last few months we have seen the demand for new states to be carved out of the existing states. Telengana, Vidharba and Bodoland are a few examples. Carving out new states requires the creation of a new state machinery . This is a cumbersome task, one that can however be overcome over a period of time. What is however a matter of concern is the stability of the government that is instilled in the states. The state of Jharkhand perfectly demonstrates this issue. Because smaller states carry a fewer number of seats in the legislative assembly, even political parties that win very few seats have a say in government formation.

Large political parties have some sort of an inter party democracy that becomes important while electing good and capable leaders. However smaller parties are akin to independents. Corrupt leaders thrive as independents or in small political parties. Regional parties such the DMK capable of having the tainted A.Raja and Madhu Koda could never survive in any political parties. Since any of the new states that would be created are more likely to have such smaller parties in the government, I see that they are more likely to be exploited by leaders who know that they have a small shelf life.

National parties such as the BJP and the Congress need to act more responsibly in this regard. The behavior of the BJP in the current Jhakhand crisis is shameful. What makes matter more complicated is the lobbying by members of the state unit to choose a particular leader. Jharkhand, one of the most backward states in terms of literacy and healthcare has not had a CM for 20 days. The people who have voted for the BJP deserve better. Similarly, a few years ago the Congress, with the help of a couple of independent MLAs, was involved in bringing down the BJP government in Goa. Such incidents do not bode well for the idea of small, well administered states.

The committees that are created for carving out new states need to keep in mind the lessons learnt from the crises that have erupted in Jharkhand and Goa. Strict rules need to be imposed to ensure stability for elected governments. Parties/independents that pull out of the government need to provide a valid, justifiable reason for their decision. A trivial reason such as “not voting with the ally in the Lok Sabha” is not acceptable. This would ensure political stability for the newly formed state and the society that fought for this change would have their faith reposed in the Indian democracy. Certainly, a student who is fighting for Telengana would not be pleased to see 4 chief ministers in 4 years.

The writer is correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and a blogger from Bangalore. He blog on Sports and Indian politics at sarathyraghav.blogspot.com

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