No attempt to communalise plan process: Montek

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (UNI) Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today dismissed the BJP charge that there was an attempt to communalise the Plan process, saying the effort was to bring into the mainstream all marginalised groups who have not benefitted from the development process and sought co-operation of the Chief Ministers at the NDC meeting here tomorrow.

"I am looking forward to approval of the NDC of the ambitous plan.

I am looking forward to constructive suggestions of the Chief Miniters on the Eleventh Plan document", Dr Ahluwalia told newspersons on the eve of the 54th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC).

The sole agenda before the NDC is approval of the Eleventh Plan document, which has been cleared by the Full Planning Commission and the Cabinet.

Dr Ahluwalia said it was a fact of life that minorities have not benefitted as much from the development process, but addded that the funding to them is decided on the basis of allocation to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Besides, there is the 15-point programme of the Prime Minister for the Welfare of Minorities to guide the government. Dr Ahluwalia clarified that the Plan document has not allocated any funds for the welfare of minorities.

He said the Plan document stands for benefitting other marginalised groups as well, such as Scheduled Cates and Tribes and bridging gender inequality.

Dr Ahluwalia said the Plan is different from earlier Plans in so far as it lays great emphasis on provision of social services, especially health and education. This is an attempt at poverty eradication.

"I will listen to the Chief Ministers, especially on the performance of the flagship programmes of the government. I prefer flexibility in guidelines and if need be we will ask the relevant Ministries to amend these to suit the interests of the State goverments, if they so want", he said.

BJP National President Rajnath Singh today charged the Central government with sowing the seeds of "discord" and "disharmony" by incorporating "communal budgeting" through moves to reserve 15 per cent funds for the minorities.

Mr Singh described as "unfortunate" that a critical vision document that sets the tone and direction for national growth and development for the next five years, was being treated as "a tool of political appeasement." The BJP President said if at the NDC meeting any "covert or overt" attempt is made at communal budgeting in the Eleventh Plan, all BJP-ruled States would oppose it.

Dr Ahluwalia, a well-known economist, answered questions on a host of thorny issues relating to the document, including the Indo-US nuclear deal, introducing labour flexibilty, funding of infrastructure sector and social sector issues.

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