New Delhi: The Inter-State Council meeting chaired by PM Narendra Modi on Saturday did not proceed as smoothly as the central government may have liked.
According to a report in The Indian Express, several Chief Ministers from non-BJP ruled states expressed concerns on a number of issues.
The CMs were especially united in their condemnation of what is seen as a misuse of Article 356 by the Modi government, to topple non-BJP state governments.
In view of the role played by governors in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, which has been sharply criticised by the courts, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar went to the extent of asking for the governor’s post to be abolished entirely.
Nitish Kumar made a strong pitch for respecting the federal spirit, demanding that chief ministers at least be given a role in the appointment and removal of governors.
Kumar also quoted the Punchhi Commission report to stress that the use of constitutional provisions like Articles 355 and 356 should be limited to extreme and grave emergencies.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was represented at the meeting by her finance minister O Panneerselvam, called for preventing “adventurism by governors”.
NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal delivered the quote of the night when it accused the Centre of reducing states to the status of “mere beggars”, according to a statement issued by the office of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The Punjab deputy chief minister stressed upon the dire need for a “genuine federal structure” in India with devolution of more powers to states. He claimed that the Centre had usurped the powers of the states in violation of the spirit of the Constitution.
Badal said there was consensus across party lines that the trend towards centralisation of authority still continued. He alleged that the Centre has been quietly shifting subjects from the State List to the Concurrent List and from the Concurrent to the Union List.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded that the Centre waive the debts of farmers across the country. He also asked for free medicines and diagnostic tests in all government hospitals of the country. He said that President’s Rule be imposed only if the government loses majority in the assembly.
However, Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat, whose government survived a confidence vote this year, did not, however, raise the issue of the imposition of President’s Rule. He spoke about issues like the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, which he claimed reduced benefits available to his state.
The Inter-State Council meeting took place after a gap of 10 years. The complaints were highlight of the meeting even as PM Modi noted that the Inter-State Council was the most significant platform for strengthening Centre-State and inter-state relations, and insisted that the nation could progress only if the union and state governments walked shoulder to shoulder.
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav did not attend the meeting....