BSP, BJP, SP come together to oppose Congress on Bundelkhand Authority

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 5 2009, 05:26am hrs
Protests from a combined Opposition in Parliament on Monday over the proposed creation of an independent Bundelkhand Development Authority for 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, compelled the government to clarify that it was not trying to infringe on rights of states.

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 during Zero Hour after the BJP and BSP did not allow both Houses to run, forcing adjournments more than once on the issue.

Bundelkhand, one of the most backward regions in the country, turned into a political issue after Rahul Gandhi toured the region and showcased it as a case of the UP governments apathy. He has led two delegations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking the Centres intervention in ensuring a fair deal to the region.

The Prime Minister had set up an expert committee and asked it to submit a comprehensive report to improve the socio-economic conditions of Bundelkhand.

Last week, Rahul Gandhi led a second delegation to the PM, seeking a Rs 8,000 crore package and asking the government to set up a central development authority for Bundelkhand controlled and funded by the Centre. Because of the geographical boundaries of UP and MP, an integrated, holistic appraoch of development cannot be implemented without constituting a centralised development authority under the government of India which would be fully funded by the government of India, a press release issued by AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, after the meeting, had said.

Matters worsened after Union minister Sriprakash Jaiswal reportedly indicated to a newspaper that such a body was being set up. The BJP, BSP as well as SP, have reacted sharply, contending that setting up such an authority infringes on the rights of states as it proposes to bypass them. It is part of the appeasement policy of Congress, SP member Akhilesh Yadav told FE. Development can be done for Bundelkhand without creating an authority, he said.

BSP MP Satish Chandra Mishra reminded the Rajya Sabha that UP chief minister Mayawati has written a letter to the PM seeking a Rs 9,000 crore package for the region. She has sent a reminder, he said, adding that she had sought 8 to 10 central projects for the region.

In Lok Sabha, BJP deputy leader Sushma Swaraj said the move to set up the BDA without consulting the MP and UP governments smacked of disrespect to the federal character of the country.