Federal India can make better progress: Badal

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Chandigarh, Nov 5 (UNI) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called for a comprehensive restructuring of the Constitution to bring it in line with the federal character of the country.

He demanded that the word 'federal' be inserted into the Preamble of the Constitution and distribution of subjects on the Union and the States lists in the Statute be recast to allow states to exploit their full potential for development and prosperity.

"It absolutely makes no sense for a country of federal diversity to have a unitary constitution", Mr Badal said in a statement after taking part in the 4th International Conference on Federalism at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today.

India was on the thresh-hold of fulfilling its famed tryst with destiny but a unitaristic and centralist structure of governance could ruin a glorious opportunity as it could throttle the vast potential of its constituent units and reduce their capacity for contributing to the overall well being of the people, he said.

"Strong states mean a strong India," he added.

Calling for a complete decentralisation of the planning process, Mr Badal demanded allocation of 35 per cent share for states in the central taxes and distribution of Rajya Sabha seats on the principle of equality between states.

In a significant reference to the critical river waters issue, the Chief Minister said that Article 262 of the Constitution should be made more specific to ensure that the centre could not violate the internationally accepted Riparian Principle. He also repeated his party's (SAD) stance that the application of Article 356 regarding the imposition of the President's rule be confined merely to conditions of external aggression or provable internal insurgency.

Mr Badal attributed the progressive erosion of federal values to a prolonged spell of single party rule both at the centre and in the states. This tinkering with federal principles must stop, he added.

For harnessing the socio-economic and political synergies of the rich diversity of the country it was necessary to give full expression to the federal impulse that strings together people with different religious, regions, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, he said.

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