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Centre disregarding federal structure: Narendra Modi


New Delhi, June 19: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Planning Commission were on Tuesday at loggerheads at the annual plan meeting with Modi accusing the Centre of adopting 'big brother' attitude disregarding the federal structure. The two-hour long meeting saw the Commission seeking to puncture Modi's claims that it was all milk and honey in Gujarat and telling the Chief Minister that the state was lagging behind in several development indices.

At the meeting with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia where a plan of Rs 59,000 crore was approved for Gujarat, Modi raised a litany of complaints against the Centre. In this context, he cited gas pricing, raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project and putting up gates to the dam.

Modi, who was recently elevated as BJP's Campaign Committee chief, departed from the normal practice by making a seven-minute audio-visual presentation to claim how states were not being given their due despite the country having a federal structure.

In his presentation, he accused the Centre of adopting a 'big brother' attitude towards the states. He said the Centre makes schemes which create financial liability for the states and in this regard referred to the Right to Education and changes in programmes like National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Modi wanted the states to have greater flexibility in implementation of centrally-sponsored schemes and desired that Planning Commission, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to act as a mediator between the state and the centre.

He said Gujarat's central sales tax compensation claims of Rs 4500 crore were pending with the Centre. The Planning Commission, however, highlighted to Modi the problems in Gujarat on the social welfare front with the state ranking 12th in the education field.

At the meeting attended by Minister of State for Planning Rajiv Shukla, the Commission pressed the need for improvement in social welfare sector and increasing the enrolment of girls in schools.

The Plan size was finalised here at a meeting between the Commission's Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The Planning Commission had approved a Plan outlay of Rs 51,000 crore for the 2012-13 for the state.

"We have agreed to a Plan size including the public sector enterprises (expenditure) of Rs 59,000 crore," Ahluwalia told reporters after the meeting in Delhi.

According to him, the central plan assistance to the state includes Rs 6,000 rpt Rs 6,000 crore under the centrally sponsored schemes and about Rs 4,000 crore as direct aid to the state. Ahluwalia said, "Gujarat is one of our better performing states. In terms of economic growth we have noted that the performance has been good in Gujarat."

"State has raised a number of issues on which the central government should act like slow decision making, faster action for better development," he added. During the meeting when state asked for greater flexibility to incur expenditure under the CSS, Ahluwalia informed the Chief Minister that "Planning Commission is taking a note to the Cabinet which I hope will be considered possibly tomorrow to introduce a lot of flexibility in each CSS (centrally sponsored scheme)."

Expressing satisfaction over the Plan outlay, later Modi said: "Originally we had thought about plan size of Rs 58,500 crore Plan size (for 2013-14). But Planning Commission thinks that Gujarat is more capable, it should grow more so it has approved Rs 59,000 crore."


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