The Rajasthan government today announced it will create 19 new districts and three more divisional headquarters to serve the needs of people who live far away from the divisional headquarters. The ruling Congress government’s move in an election year, however, received criticism from the BJP, which alleged the real intention behind the decision by the Ashok Gehlot government is to meet “personal political ends”.
“Rajasthan is the biggest state in the country in terms of geographical area. In some cases, the distance to the district headquarters is more than a 100 km. People are unable to reach district headquarters easily and the administration, too, is unable to reach each and every family,” Mr Gehlot, the Chief Minister, said in the Rajasthan assembly today.
Rajasthan currently has 33 districts. The three new divisional headquarters are Pali, Sikar and Banswara.
“If the districts are smaller, than it helps in maintaining effective law and order and better administration can be provided,” Mr Gehlot told the assembly.
Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje said Mr Gehlot decided to carve out the new districts “to fulfil political ends”.
“The way in which new districts have been announced has put the (state) budget and economic structure at stake. Many important issues have been overlooked in announcing the new districts,” Ms Raje said, adding the move will cause more administrative challenges rather than making it easier.
Mr Gehlot proposed a budget of Rs 2,000 crore for infrastructure development and human resources in the first phase of creating the new districts. Fifteen years ago, Ms Raje when she was the Chief Minister had created Pratapgarh as a district.
The ruling Congress and the BJP have already started warming up campaigns ahead of the election scheduled later this year. Both parties were seen last month reaching out to the electorally significant Gujjar community in Rajasthan.
Gujjars, who constitute around 9 to 12 per cent of the state population and are significant in 40 to 50 assembly seats in eastern Rajasthan, are a critical vote bank for both the Congress and the BJP.
The Congress, however, has a rebel crisis at hand ahead of the election. Mr Gehlot and Sachin Pilot have been on loggerheads for long, and though there’s an effort to project unity, both have been quick to provocation with subtle jibes at each other.
Mr Gehlot has set the target of winning 156 seats, the same number it achieved in 1998 when the Congress came to power in the state under his leadership.