Politics over Bundelkhand hots up in Madhya Pradesh

The Union government`s move to set up a Central development authority for the Bundelkhand region has heated up politics in Madhya Pradesh.

Bhopal: The Union government`s move to set up a Central development authority for the Bundelkhand region has heated up politics in Madhya Pradesh, the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress accusing each other of drawing political mileage from the issue.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has taken strong exception to the move and shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh alleging that it was an attempt to infringe upon the rights of the state.

On the other hand, the state Congress is saying that Chouhan`s opposition to the move has strengthened its belief that he is not very interested in the development of Bundelkhand, which spans Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Rural Development and MP from Jhansi Pradeep Jain Aditya`s visit to Tikamgarh district, which falls in Bundelkhand region, has irritated the ruling party.

The state`s Housing and Environment Minister Jatant Malaiya, who hails from the same region, has described the visit as a stunt of the Congress for political mileage.

"A Centrally controlled council/authority for Bundelkhand will hit at the very basis of centre-state relations and also violate the provisions of the constitution," Chouhan has said in his letter to the Prime Minister sent late Friday.

"The objective of the authority is nothing but to limit the role of the state government on the ground that it (Bundelkhand) is a contiguous physical area which requires integrated development," feels Chouhan. "It is in contravention to the federal spirit of the constitution and its provisions should have been taken into consideration before deciding to set up any such body," he said.

Describing the move as politically motivated, Chouhan said, "It`s Bundelkhand today, tomorrow it may be something else. Such interference in the matters of states is not acceptable."

Chouhan said his government had sent a proposal for a Rs 2,400 crore package for Bundelkhand region in the state following the visit of a central team to study the impact of drought. But not a single paisa has been given despite the fact that the proposal was prepared in consultation with the Centre`s study team, he alleged.

Chouhan in his letter informed the prime minister that the Madhya Pradesh government had constituted a Bundelkhand Development Authority in 2007 with Surendra Pratap Singh as chairman and the setting up of a similar body by the Centre would only be a duplication.

Housing and Environment Minister Jayant Malaiya, who hails from the same region, said: "If the central government really wants development of the region, it should directly hand over the funds to both the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh governments."

Reacting to the BJP leader`s allegation, state Congress president Suresh Pachauri said, "The chief minister and his colleagues should overcome politics and express gratitude towards the Congress for taking this valuable initiative."

State Congress leaders appeared upbeat over the move and said, "It indicates the first step towards creation of a separate state of Bundelkhand" to be carved out of districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The Bundelkhand region comprises Datia, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Panna, Damoh and Sagar districts of Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Banda and Fatehpur districts of Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress supports creation of a separate state of Bundelkhand.