PM seeks parties support for shared nat agenda

New Delhi: The National Development Council (NDC) on Saturday fixed 9 per cent growth target with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking political parties to ensure that long- term goals do not become "hostage" to short-term interests.

After a day-long deliberations during which non-UPA states attacked the central government over various issues, Singh said, the Commission will take note of their suggestions while drafting the 12th Plan (2012-17). "We have had a fruitful discussion. Many chief ministers had expressed their views on various issues covered in the Approach Paper.

"There are different views on some issues, but there is a broad agreement that the objectives laid out in the Approach Paper and the challenges identified therein should be the basis of finalising the 12th Plan", Singh said. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia later told reporters that 12th Plan would target growth rate of 9 per cent, up from 8.2 per cent estimated during the 11th Plan. Singh, in his inaugural speech, asked parliamentary parties to strike a balance between adversarial political positions on issues and cooperating on long-term national agenda.

At the meet, which was skipped by six Chief Ministers including J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), Mayawati (Uttar Pradesh) and Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), the Prime Minister appealed to various stakeholders to reverse the mood of "negativism" because both optimism and pessimism have an infectious quality. The Prime Minister said that, "elected governments can deliver only if…the political process works to allow government to function in a manner where the needs of longer term development do not become hostage to short term concerns.

"What this means is that parliamentary parties have to strike a difficult balance between maintaining adversarial political positions on many issues, while also cooperating to advance longer term national agenda. This balance is not easy to strike." Non-UPA ruled states criticised the Centre for its policies towards them with Jayalalithaa and her Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi launching scathing attacks accusing it of discrimination and weakening the federal structure.

Jayalalithaa alleged that the UPA government was not treating states as partners but had reduced them to "glorified municipal corporations" and dismissed NDC as "more of a ritualistic exercise rather than to achieve any tangible outcome". Modi also accused the UPA government of attempting to "tinker" with the federal structure, particularly in the implementation of development schemes.

Responding to such charges, the Prime Minister said, "some states have raised concern that there should be no discriminatory treatment against any state. I want to assure you the centre is determined to treat all states fairly and transparently. "If there is perception of discrimination, it is a perception and not based on reality".He said the Centre tends to provide more support to the poorer states "but that does not mean we are discriminating against the more advanced". .