Terming his rival contestant Uma Bharati a ‘pravasi chidiya’, sitting Congress MP from Jhansi Pradeep Jain has assured the voters here that his party will ensure a separate Bundelkhand state, which, he said has not even found mention in BJP’s poll manifesto.
Asserting that Congress has always been in favour of smaller states like Telangana, Jain, also Union Minister of State for Rural Development, blamed the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments for poor implementation of Centre’s relief package for the drought-affected Bundelkhand region.
Claiming that Bharti’s promises on creation of a separate state were “mere words”, Jain, in an interview to PTI, said, “She is a ‘pravasi chidiya’ (migratory bird). She will fly away after the elections. She was also shunted out of Madhya Pradesh and in Uttar Pradesh people have also not accepted her.”
Bharati had recently promised voters a separate Bundelkhand state within three years, if BJP is voted to power at the Centre.
“Her (Uma Bharati) statements on Bundelkhand are mere words. She is also promising voters that BJP will award Bharat Ratna to hockey legend Major Dhyanchand, but when the party was in power (1998-2004), nothing was done,” said 51-year-old Jain, who in 2009 won the seat from Jhansi, a major town in Bundelkhand region.
Spread over Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the Bundelkhand area comprises seven districts in UP and six in MP with a geographical area of about 7 million hectares.
The region has about 10 parliamentary constituencies and around 30-40 assembly constituencies and is considered a major part of ‘Hindi heartland’.
In January 2008, a delegation led by the then Uttar Pradesh state Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make the demand for a separate Bundelkhand state. The delegation, which sought intervention of party Vice President Rahul Gandhi in the issue, demanded setting up of the Second States Reorganisation Commission for the purpose.
BJP leaders have also pitched for a separate Bundelkhand state. “The creation of Bundelkhand is not in BJP’s election manifesto. They are just lying to the people,” Jain claimed. Bundelkhand has been in news for the past few years due to successive droughts, leading to numerous debt-ridden farmers committing suicides.
The Union government in November 2009 had announced a Rs 7,266 crore package -a pet project of Rahul Gandhi- for the region.
Sharpening his attack on BJP, Jain said the creation of Bundelkhand as a separate state “does not form part of BJP manifesto”. A proposal to that effect was not passed in Madhya Pradesh assembly where BJP is in power since 2003, he added.
“We will create Bundelkhand and Congress is in favour of small states. Telangana is the example of this and the party’s stand is always in support for small states,” he said. He claimed he had brought a proposal for Bundelkhand state in Uttar Pradesh assembly when he was an MLA from here but it was delayed by about a year and a half by the then state Chief Minister Mayawati.
Asked about the poor implementation of the relief package in the region, Jain said agriculture is a state subject and the implementation is in the hands of state governments.
However, there have been some gains like farmers were able to sow two crop cycles and some mandis (farmer marts) and dairies were constructed, he added.
“Besides, there is corruption in the state governments in implementation of NRHM (National Rural health Mission) and mid-day meal schemes and it was here as well, but we have always raised this issue,” Jain said.