Remap­ping the Coun­try

India Today - - MAIL - by Vi­jay Jung Thapa

“Un­til yes­ter­day, it was the out­sider who we blamed for rav­aging the forests, suck­ing our blood and thwart­ing our am­bi­tions. To­mor­row, it will be one of us...”

The words, slashed in red, onarough­school­wallinDind­sariv­il­lageinUt­tarkashi,con­veythe­sense­ofin­tro­spec­tion that per­vades the hill districts of Ut­tar Pradesh to­day. People here don’t need to be per­suaded to dis­cuss Ut­tarak­hand, but the Cen­tre’s agree­ment­to­carve­outasep­a­rat­es­tate­has­raisedthede­bate­toafever­ish­pitch. Every­where— from the dank tead habas of Naini­talto smoky­log fires out­side moun­tains hacks in Pauri—sit hud­dled groups in an­i­mated con­ver­sa­tion. Even the con­gen­i­tal mon­soon land slides or the un­usual leop­ard men­ace this year don’t di­vert at­ten­tion from a heady brew of Ut­tarakh and pol­i­tics.

You would think that af­ter years of hav­ing the door slam in their faces, Prime Min­is­ter H.D. Deve Gowda’s de­ci­sion to put out the wel­come mat would make the Ut­tarakh and is ex­u­ber­ant.In­stead,thePa­hadi’sin­her­ent­wari­nesspre­vails. The worst may be over, but people here are busy try­ing to guess what the next stum­bling block to ac­tual state­hood might be: The United Front Govern­ment could fall, the Ut­tar Pradesh As­sem­bly could do a volte face,or anag­i­ta­tion could start against the di­vi­sion of the state.

UT­TARAK­HAND AG­I­TA­TORS

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