This will be a pity. Can the reorganisation of India most populous state continue be ignored any longer? In its current form, Uttar Pradesh would be the fifth or sixth largest country in the world, with a  population of  over 20 crore which will probably go up to over 40 crore by the middle of this century, with 75 districts and 822 blocks and some 52,000 gram panchayats. To put it bluntly, even with the most modern technology and with the strongest of will, it is simply ungovernable. It is too big, too unwieldy to be run effectively.   

It is true that the States Reorganisation Commission of 1955 did not recommend the division of Uttar Pradesh. But what is often overlooked is the learned and detailed dissent note written by one of its members, the distinguished historian-diplomat K.M. Panikkar. He expressed great worries at the imbalance created by the disproportionate size of Uttar Pradesh and pointed to what he considered to be in his own words "the major and basic weakness of the Indian Constitution--the extraordinary disparity between one unit and the rest". His proposal was for the creation of a new state called Agra consisting of the "Meerut, Agra, Rohilkhand and Jhansi Divisions of Uttar Pradesh (minus Dehra Dun district of Meerut Division and Pilibhit district of Rohilkhand Division), the district of Datia from Vindhya Pradesh and the four districts of Bhind, Morena, Gwalior and Shivpuri from Madhya Bharat". But Panikkar was over-ruled by his fellow members on the Commission, S. Fazl Ali and H.N. Kunzru, both of whom incidentally happen to have been from Uttar Pradesh itself.

But there were other advocates as well for a restructured Uttar Pradesh whose views, unfortunately, remained on paper.  Speaking in the Lok Sabha on July 7th, 1952, Jawaharlal Nehru himself  had this to say: "I, for my part, would be perfectly agreeable if there were a proposition that Uttar Pradesh, for instance, be split up into four provinces. However, I doubt very much if my colleagues from Uttar Pradesh would relish the idea; on the contrary, they would probably like to have an additional chunk from some other province". And in his book "Thoughts on Linguistic States" that came out in 1955, Dr. Ambedkar whose position on linguistic states, like that of Nehru's evolved with the years, called for the trifurcation of Uttar Pradesh on different grounds--on the grounds of administrative efficiency, on the grounds of reducing the disproportionate influence of such a large state on the polity and also on the grounds that minorities are protected better in smaller states.  
 
In 2000 after a prolonged period of agitation Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh. It was done, in large part, to fulfill the aspirations of the hill regions of the state and also in recognition of the  special circumstances prevailing in these regions. The division has had no impact on governance in UP, although it has opened up new opportunities for Uttarakhand which, unfortunately, have yet to be fully grasped because of an all-pervasive culture of corruption. Of course, decisive leadership can make a difference. For a long time, for example, Bihar was deemed ungovernable till Nitish Kumar demonstrated otherwise and his golden spell lasted a good eight years. But Uttar Pradesh is different--for one its population is almost double that of Bihar and its area almost three times larger.

According the Indian Constitution (Article 3), consent of the state legislature is not a pre-requisite for its reorganisation. Parliament is fully competent to restructure state boundaries but it can do so only after the President has referred the Bill to the legislature of the state being reorganised for expressing its views. This is how Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated even though the state legislature expressed its opposition which was only to be expected given the composition of the legislature. In the case of Uttar Pradesh, the state legislature had submitted a proposal to the Centre for reorganisation in November 2011 when Mayawati was Chief Minister.

Mayawati's proposal was for dividing UP into four new states- Purvanchal (Eastern UP), Paschim Pradesh (Western UP), Bundelkhand (Southern UP) and Awadh Pradesh (Central UP). Political motives may well have influenced the timing of this proposal but the fact remains that there is much to recommend it, if for a moment we are prepared to keep party politics aside. With its stunning performance in the recent Lok Sabha polls in UP, the BJP may be tempted to oppose such a proposal thinking that it could get a decisive majority in the next vidhan sabha polls. But even if this were to happen, chances of good governance in UP are not bright because of its inherent size. It is not just a question of decisive electoral mandates. Such mandates have been forthcoming in the past. But even with the best of intentions, opportunities have been squandered in large part because the present sprawling structure of the state itself.

Actually, the wisest course of action at this stage would be to set up a second states reorganisation commission since there would be demands for other new states like, for instance, Vidarbha. Such a commission could be given twenty four  months to complete its study and analysis for each of the demands being made. The proposal for reorganisation of Uttar Pradesh too could be part of this study and analysis so that it is not seen just in the framework of party politics. Reorganisation by itself is no solution: Chattisgarh has prospered but Jharkhand has not. But in the case of Uttar Pradesh not doing anything is no longer an option since the experience of the state over the last quarter of a century particularly has demonstrated that  governance has reached a dead end--irrespective of personalities and parties.   

(Jairam Ramesh is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha from Andhra Pradesh. These views are personal)