Non-UPA ruled states criticise Centre for policies

New Delhi: Non-UPA ruled states today criticised the Centre for its policies towards them with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi launching scathing attacks by accusing it of weakening the federal structure. "I am not sure that the government of India recognises the states as partners, leave alone equal partners, and respects their viewpoints," Jayalalithaa said in her speech that was circulated at the National Development Council meeting here.

"There are attempts by the Centre to weaken the states with too much interference thereby reducing them to the status of glorified municipal corporations," she said. Modi was equally acerbic as he accused the Centre of "tinkering" with the federal structure and advised the ruling UPA to follow the "federal dharma".

"… I wish to draw the attention of this august body to attempts being made increasingly by the Central government to tinker with the federal structure mandated by the Constitution," he said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati stressed on the need to "rise above party politics" to ensure speedier development of the backward regions. She said as the objectives of inclusive growth could not be fully met during the 11th Five Year Plan, there was a need to initiate concrete measures during the 12th Plan to ensure speedier development of backward regions and to bring the "downtrodden" into the mainstream of growth.

"To achieve such balanced and higher level of development, it will be necessary to rise above party politics and so distribute the resources as to uplift the lagging regions and neglected sections of our society," she said. The chief ministers were also critical of the Centre`s inability to tackle the rising prices that had made "life very difficult for people".

"The major problem we need to tackle is that of inflation… Rising prices have made life very difficult for people… Government of India has made little effort to tackle the supply side constraints," Modi said.

"Price rise is an area where the central policies have failed and are even counter-productive," Jayalalithaa said, adding that prices of food and fuel have been rising continuously and "heaping misery on people".

Mayawati also said that the common man was suffering due to high inflation and the situation on high prices of essential commodities was serious. "While the consumers are suffering because of price rise, economic development is getting affected as entrepreneurs are wary of investing capital," she said. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar voiced concern over the rapid growth in the share of the central plan in the Gross Budgetary Support at the expense of the share of the state plan.

"This militates against the very concept of a federal economy and inclusive development. I would sincerely urge that we should consider reversing this trend by strengthening the roots of our federal structure," Kumar said. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said the development strategy pursued by the Centre had widened regional inequalities and the northeastern states were victims of it. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the state felt it was being discriminated against by the Centre as it has been "virtually excluded from accessing most of the national programmes.