Monday, June 24, 2024

Centre-state relations


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Centre-state relations in India have been fraught with acrimony and the Sarkaria Commission has not sorted out the differences. At the National Development Council meeting with Chief Ministers for the approval of the approach paper to the 12th Five Year Plan, CMs of various states accused the Centre of discrimination in allocations. TN Chief Minister, J. Jayalalitha harped on the old theme of step-motherly treatment. The states, she said, are treated like glorified municipal corporations. The Centre is said to be concentrating power in its own hands. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar alleged that the Centre was curbing the discretionary power of the state Chief Ministers and expanding its own. All this accounted for the failure of Central schemes in their states, they argued. The Chief Minister of Gujarat warned the Centre against weakening the federal structure. Central assistance to states in the 12th plan, according to him, should be refashioned to promote transparency. All these states are ruled by non-UPA governments.

The basic issue is the role of the planning commission itself. It has decidedly played a major role in the saga of Indian economic development. But it is an extra-constitutional body and its functions are not guided by Constitutional principles underlying Centre-state relations. There is no point in expecting transparency from this body. It impairs the growth of a stronger federal structure striking out in an arbitrary manner. The classification of subjects—Central, State and Concurrent—goes unheeded. The states have often to go to the Centre with a begging bowl. Politics doubtless meddles with Central largesse.


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