Poll practice has begun. And it’s about to give districts number 73, 74, and 75. A practised hand at creating and renaming districts after dalit icons, the BSP government has decided to add Hapur, Shamli and Deoband to the existing list of 72 districts (according to UP government records). In the past, forming or renaming geographical units, analysts say, was aimed at enhancing dalit pride. According to rough estimates, it has won BSP nearly three dozen assembly seats in districts named after dalit icons. This time, though, Mayawati is doing things differently. “She’s creating districts to appeal to a votebank that has not, traditionally, been loyal to her. It also speaks volumes of her prime ministerial aspirations. She wants to appeal to a wider audience; beyond the dalit community,’’ a Lucknow-based political analyst said. Mayawati had carved out new administrative units even during her previous tenure. In 2010, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar was created from Sultanpur and Rae Bareli, a move that assumed political significance because it was believed to be the political borough of the Gandhi clan
THE DISTRICTS CREATED UNDER THE MAYAWATI REGIME
MAHAMAYA NAGAR Till 1997, Hathras was an ordinary town famous for its culture and literature. Its first brush with an identity crisis came when Mayawati took over as UP chief minister and renamed Hathras after Gautam Buddha’s mother Mahamaya. Once a sub-divison of Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar was also declared a new district. In 1998, though Mayawati lost power, the town was renamed Hathras. In 2002, Mayawati returned to the CM’s chair and once again, Hathras became Mahamaya Nagar. This was not the end of Hathras’ change in identity. In 2006, when Samajwadi Party was voted to power, then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav renamed Mahamaya Nagar to Hathras. Maya, after she regained power in 2007, changed the name of the town for the fifth time
CHHATRAPATI SHAHUJI MAHARAJ NAGAR Though it still hasn’t gained recognition as UP’s 72nd district in Census 2011, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar (CSMN) is, according to UP government records, the state’s newest district. It came into existence on July 1, 2010, when three tehsils of erstwhile Sultanpur district – Amethi, Gauriganj and Musafirkhana – and two tehsils of Rae Bareli – Salon and Tiloi – were merged. Significantly, the new district incorporates the entire Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, considered the political borough of the Gandhi family. The notification for creating CSMN was issued by the Mayawati government on May 21, 2003. But it was revoked by the Mulayam Singh government in the same year. Finally, in 2010, the decision to re-create the district was taken at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Mayawati. The district comprises five tehsils, 16 development blocks, 17 police stations and 401 lekhpal areas. Even though the decision for forming the district was settled in favour of UP in July 2010, the state government notified the Registrar General of Census Operations that census work could continue without including CSMN as UP’s newest district.
RAMABAI NAGAR Earlier known as Kanpur Dehat, the district was renamed as Ramabai Nagar after Dr BR Ambedkar’s first wife on July 1, 2010. In an official statement after the district’s formation, BSP spokesperson had said that Kanpur Dehat was renamed after Ambedkar’s wife because she was a great source of inspiration and played an important role in Ambedkar’s life. The spokesperson clarified that the need for renaming the district was felt because two adjoining districts that counted almost the same – Kanpur Nagar and Kanpur Dehat – were leading to enormous “administrative confusion’’. Political analysts, however, saw this as Mayawati’s attempt to build a dalit votebank.
AMBEDKAR NAGAR Mayawati created Ambedkar Nagar out of Faizabad in June 1995 after being sworn in as chief minister for the first time. Out of five assembly seats falling in the district at that time, her party had won only two — Katehari and Akbarpur. But she reaped the dividends of her strategy in the 2007 assembly election when she also won the three remaining seats — Chanda, Gosainganj and Ambedkar Nagar. Significantly, the BSP chief repeatedly reminded the voters during campaigning that she had named the district after a dalit icon for the community’s pride.
SANT KABIR NAGAR This district was carved out of Basti in March 1997, when Mayawati became CM for six months. This too was seen as an attempt to woo a fresh voter base. After the fresh formation, in fact, BSP’s prospects did change for the better. Where her party staked claim to one assembly seat – Haisar Bazaar – in 1997, by 2007, BSP won 4 out of 5 assembly seats. The party improved its performance in Basti district was well, from which the Sant Kabir district was originally carved out
KANSHIRAM NAGAR was created in April 2008 by separating Kasganj, Patiali and Sahawar tehsils from Etah district. The district is named after Mayawati’s political mentor Kanshi Ram. Following her decision to create the new district, large-scale protests followed in the region, with local groups demanding that the district be names after Sant Tulsidas, who was born in the area, instead of after Kanshi Ram. Mayawati, however, did not relent, and Kanshiram Nagar was given the official status of UP’s 71st district
GAUTAM BUDH NAGAR In June 1997, Mayawati ordered the creation of Gautam Budh Nagar from Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr districts.
JYOTIBA PHULE NAGAR came into being in April 1997 and was named after social reformer Sant Mahatma Jyotiba Phule. Situated on the west of Moradabad district, JP Nagar adjoins Meerut, Ghaziabad and BulandShahr. The district was carved out of Moradabad by combining Amroha, Dhanora and Hasanpur tehsils of the district
SANT RAVIDAS NAGAR, erstwhile Bhadohi, was created on June 30, 1994, as the 65th district of the state
HAPUR, the newest in the line of UP’s districts, awaits official christening by the state government. Stealthy operations by local levels officials, however, have already begun. A formal announcement of the district is expected to be made on September 28, when chief minister Mayawati visits the region
SHAMLI She is also expected to announce the creation of Shamli district, which will be carved out of Muzaffarnagar district of UP
DEOBAND A growing demand for Deoband has existed. If Mayawati announces the formation of this district—pulling it out of the existing Saharanpur district, she could, experts feel, win over some Muslim votes