The Rajasthan government today announced that it will create 19 new districts and three more divisional headquarters to meet the needs of people living far away from the divisional headquarters. The move by the ruling Congress government in an election year, however, drew criticism from the BJP, which alleged that the real intention behind the Ashok Gehlot government’s decision was to meet “personal political ends”.
“Rajasthan is the largest state in the country in terms of geographical area. In some cases, the distance between the district headquarters is more than 100 km. Each and every family,” Mr Gehlot, Chief Minister, said in the Rajasthan Assembly today.
Presently there are 33 districts in Rajasthan. The three new divisional headquarters are Pali, Sikar and Banswara.
“If the districts are small, it helps in maintaining effective law and order and better administration can be provided,” Gehlot told the assembly.
Former chief minister and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje said Mr Gehlot decided to create the new districts “to fulfill political objectives”.
Ms. Raje said, “The way the new districts have been announced, it has put the (state) budget and economic structure at stake. Many important issues have been ignored in the announcement of new districts.” Making it easy.
Mr Gehlot proposed a budget of Rs 2,000 crore for infrastructure development and human resources in the first phase of creation of new districts. Fifteen years ago, Ms. Raje carved out Pratapgarh as a district when she was the chief minister.
The ruling Congress and the BJP have already started campaigning ahead of the elections due later this year. Both the parties were seen reaching out to the electorally important Gujjar community in Rajasthan last month.
Gujjars, who constitute about 9 to 12 per cent of the state’s population and are important in 40 to 50 assembly seats in eastern Rajasthan, are a significant vote bank for both the Congress and the BJP.
However, ahead of the elections, the Congress is facing a rebel crisis. Mr Gehlot and Sachin Pilot have long been at loggerheads, and although efforts have been made to show unity, both have been quick to lash out at each other with subtle sarcasms.
Mr Gehlot has set a target of winning 156 seats, the same number he achieved in 1998 when the Congress came to power in the state under his leadership.