Modi:Centre tampering with federal structure

New Delhi: In a blistering attack, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today took the Centre to task for making attempts to "tinker" with the federal structure, particularly in the implementation of development schemes.

Modi, addressing the National Development Council meeting here, also highlighted the "widespread disenchantment" among the people who were becoming "increasingly impatient" with growing corruption. "It is with a sense of great anguish and deep regret that 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 told the meeting here.

Asking the Centre to observe "federal dharma", Modi said extreme vigilance and caution has to be exercised to ensure that all constitutional authorities were allowed to carry out their mandated functions. On corruption, the Gujarat Chief Minister said it was "painful" to read the comments of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India that the "credibility of the government is at its lowest since independence".

Modi said there was a "credibility crisis" in the country and the confidence of people in governance had been shaken to the core. "Large scale corruption has undermined the fate of the common citizen in our system of governance. Production of voluminous reports to reform governance is not sufficient. Transparency and fairness have to be clearly demonstrated to change public perception," he said.

Modi hit out at the Centre for being inconsistent with the federal fiscal system while transferring resources to states which has led to problems relating to administration and financial discipline.  "It is ironical and sad that while progressive states are empowering people and decentralising decision making, the Central government is moving in opposite direction," he said.

While funds were placed directly in the hands of district level agencies by Central ministries, the onus for implementation, monitoring and accountability remains with the state government, he said. "This unusual procedure of bypassing state governments weakens them and results in poor quality outcomes," Modi said calling for a review and redesign of the system of allocation of central assistance in the 12th Plan.

He stressed on the need to see states as partners in development and involve them for active consultation instead of unilateral announcements of centrally-sponsored schemes. "During the 11th Plan, we have seen enough instances of major schemes yielding sub-optimal outcomes because the schemes gave little or no flexibility to the states," he said. Modi demanded a "structured mechanism" to be set up to resolve pending issues with the Centre.

"It has been observed that many critical issues of states remain pending for resolution by the Central government for years…It almost appears that it is for the states to repeatedly knock on the dors of the Central government which is oblivious to their pleas," he said. "There is an urgent need to set up a structured mechanism which addresses such issues and resolves them in a time-bound manner," Modi said.