New Delhi, Oct 22: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today attacked the UPA government for “reducing states to glorified municipal corporations” by turning a deaf ear to their reasonable demands and described central proposals like the Communal Violence bill as “fascist”.
She also questioned the Approach Paper for 12th Plan in her speech tabled in National Development Council here, saying the lack of emphasis in the document on a direct attack on poverty was “reflective of the apathy” of the Centre towards the issue that really concerns the common man.
Jayalalithaa “strongly advocated” the need for a more ambitious growth target and set ten per cent growth as the minimum target though she expressed doubt about achieving the goal saying it was not easy to attain.
The Chief Minister, who rode to power ousting DMK in the Assembly elections in May this year, said the government has “miserably failed” to arrest price rise and its policies and actions to tackle it were counter productive.
“I am not sure that the Government of India recognises the States as partners, leave alone equal partners, and respects their viewpoints. These meetings at best are ritualistic and are exercises in futility...”
“There are attempts by the Centre to weaken the states with too much interference thereby reducing them to the status of glorified municipal corporations. It is continuously proving that it is completely out of sync with ground realities and far removed from the man on the street,” she said.
Referring to Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, GST Bill, Common Entrance Test for professional courses, she said, “Several measures proposed by the Central Government in recent months are all fascist and anti-democratic in nature.”
Meetings like these only cause frustration to states and people when the Centre turns a deaf ear even to reasonable requests like restoration of kerosene quota to mitigate the sufferings of the poor, or additional power to tide over a crisis situation, Jayalalithaa said.
“In the final arithmetic, the Government of India seems to have lost direction and it is left to the State Governments to face public ire. I sincerely hope that this hopeless situation will change for the better in times to come and we should be able to discharge our duties and responsibilities towards the poor and the people at large,” she said.
The Chief Minister said she would like to place on record her strong feeling that the NNDC meeting is being convened “more as a ritualistic exercise rather than to achieve any tangible outcome”.
“The Central government seems to be hell-bent on penalising non-Congress governments. This government at the Centre does not seem to understand that the people living in the States under Non-Congress governments are as much citizens of India as those in the states where the Congress is in power,” she said.
Despite repeated requests for special assistance, she said funds are not provided to Tamil Nadu while a special package has been given to West Bengal for the only reason that the present ruling party in West Bengal is an ally of the ruling party at the Centre.
“This only indicates that step motherly treatment is given to non-Congress governments.”
On the Communal Violence Bill, she said it was only a “blatant attempt to totally bypass” the state governments and concentrate all powers in the Centre, thereby rendering the states absolutely powerless and totally at the mercy of the Centre.
Jayalalithaa also found fault with the Centre for trying to bring the GST Bill without allaying the apprehensions of the states and accused it of trying to usurp the state government's power to levy VAT. In the matter of Common Entrance Test for professional courses also, she said the Centre seems to be obstinate without caring for local conditions and the views of the state governments.
She said even attacks on fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu in the Palk Bay by Sri Lanka were not looked upon as acts of aggression against India. “This issue is merely looked upon as a minor problem concerning Tamil Nadu alone. “The Centre seems to think that the lives of fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu are worthless and do not call for any potent action,” she said.
On the plan panel's Approach Paper, the Chief Minister said, “It lacked clear direction and strategies” and that the government needed to introspect the failures in implementing the 11th Plan.
She also complained that the bulk of the outlay on the 13 flagship programmes was earlier provided to the states as untied ‘Normal Central Assistance' to finance state determined priorities.
“With the big brotherly attitude that has come to characterise the Central Government, untied funds have been replaced by the so-called flagship programmes, consequentially treating elected state governments as mere local supplicants.
“In my view, such a design is completely flawed and violative of the spirit of the Constitution,” she said objecting to the “deliberate attempt” to bypass states by releasing funds directly to implementing agencies.
She also raised concerns about MNREGA, saying in some parts, the scheme tends to emphasise wage payments without corresponding focus on asset creation.
Innovative mechanisms to establish rural industries and create durable on-farm assets and declaring the peak agricultural season as a scheme holiday period under the MGNREGA can be permitted to enhance the quality of fund utilisation,” Jayalalithaa said.
Noting that transport infrastructure requires considerable upgradation, she said it was “unfortunate” that the Centre was “not being fair” and non-Congress ruled states, in particular, are getting only “step-motherly treatment” in matters of allocation of such major projects.
On the Approach Paper drawing attention to publicly financed health care, she said the approach of the Centre has been rigid with the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) being the only template available for Central support.
“Many states have designed schemes with better coverage and benefits, but receive no Central assistance. This unnecessary rigidity needs to be removed and states with schemes having better coverage than RSBY should be made eligible for Central assistance towards the cost of premium,” she said.