Creation of Chhattisgarh

The Congress Government of Madhya Pradesh took the first institutional and legislative initiative for the creation of Chhattisgarh. On the 18 of March 1994, a resolution demanding a separate Chhattisgarh was tabled and unanimously approved by the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha. Both the Congress and the Bhartiya Janta Party supported the resolution. The election manifestos of the Congress and the BJP for both the 1998 and the 1999 parliamentary elections as well as the Madhya Pradesh assembly election of 1998 included the demand for creation of separate Chhattisgarh. In 1998, the BJP led Union Government drafted a bill for the creation of a separate state of Chhattisgarh from sixteen districts of Madhya Pradesh. This draft bill was sent to the Madhya Pradesh assembly for approval. It was unanimously approved in 1998, although with certain modifications. The union government did not survive and fresh elections were declared. The new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government sent the redrafted Separate Chhattisgarh Bill for the approval of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, where it was once again unanimously approved and then it was tabled in the Lok Sabha. This bill for a separate Chhattisgarh was passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, paving the way for the creation of a separate state of Chhattisgarh. The President of India gave his consent to The Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000 on the 25 of August 2000. The Government of India subsequently set the First day of November 2000 as the day on which the state of Madhya Pradesh would be bifurcated into Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Many political observers have commented on the relatively peaceful manner in which the Chhattisgarh state has been created.

There is no single factor responsible for the creation of Chhattisgarh. It is in fact a complex interplay of a combination of factors that paved the path for a separate state. The long standing demand and the movement for Uttarakhand and Jharkhand which led to the acceptance of separate states for these two regions, created a sensitive environment for the Prithak Chhattisgarh demand. Therefore, the creation of Chhattisgarh coincided with the creation of these two states and became a concurrent process. Another important factor leading to the creation of Chhattisgarh was that there was clear acceptance, within Chhattisgarh and outside that Chhattisgarh had a distinct socio-cultural regional identity that had evolved over centuries. A consensus had evolved and emerged on the distinctiveness of Chhattisgarh. The people of Chhattisgarh accepted this and saw Prithak Chhattisgarh as giving expression to this identity. A sense of relative deprivation had also developed in the region and people felt that a separate state was imperative for development to take place in the region. In a democratic polity, the people’s demand has a high degree of legitimacy and weight. Therefore the people’s demand voiced through democratic channels was heard and contributed immensely to the creation of Chhattisgarh.

The consensus regarding the distinctiveness of Chhattisgarh did not remain limited to its socio-cultural identity. All over Madhya Pradesh, the consensus on a need for separate Chhattisgarh was also carefully developed. This consensus cuts across geographical regions castes, classes and political parties. A strong reflection of this consensus was evident in the unanimous passing of the Chhattisgarh bill in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha. This consensus is a pointer to the high degree of maturity of Madhya Pradesh polity and the smooth passage of the Prithak Chhattisgarh bill resulting in the peaceful and unanimous creation of a new state a tribute to this maturity.