UP CM Mayawati's proposal to carve the state into four new states is not only based on political gamesmanship but is also shortsighted. UP, which was earlier broken into two, thus creating Uttarakhand in 2000, has had a history of demands from various communities, especially from the impoverished Bundelkhand region, to create new states.
The argument has always been the same -- of identity as well as ease of governance. While the former is a no-brainer, it is the latter that is cause for debate. Smaller states do not necessarily mean good governance. Those who argue the cause of smaller states for good governance need not look beyond states such as Goa or any of the North-Eastern states. Goa has had a history of regular political upheaval ever since it was given the status of a state.
Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram have had their unique problems of governance, exacerbated by the Centre's lack of interest in maintaining basic law and order -- the ongoing 100-plus-day blockade in Manipur is a grim reminder of this.
Mayawati's political gamesmanship emerges from the fact that the state is due for elections, and making promises to certain communities will ensure that the BSP appeals to those vote banks that have demanded smaller states.
It also puts the ball in the Centre's court. This way, Mayawati wins the hearts of the electorate for proposing the four-states formula and is a hero if it goes through; while if it doesn't, the UPA takes the flak.
There is no denying that Mayawati is a streetsmart politician. Even in her choice of candidates to represent the BSP for the elections, she betrays a certain liking for Brahmins. Yet, this time around, she would have to be extremely careful about her proposal. She only has to look to what is happening in the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh to understand the pitfalls of her apparent political masterstroke.