Stating that the Constitution was not in tune with the changing times,Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday demanded the setting up of a constituent assembly to rewrite the Constitution on genuinely federal lines.
Speaking in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha,Badal said: The powers are with the Centre but the state governments are accountable on all the issues. Till we have a federal structure we cannot progress. So the constitution has to be recast by a constituent assembly.
Claiming that the states have gradually been reduced to the status of beggars,Badal accused the Centre of progressively eroding the states powers. The Constitution is not in tune with the requirements of the changing times and as a result the country is not able to fully utilise its potential for development and prosperity. The states are the best qualified to understand and address the problems of the people in an effective manner, he added.
The chief minister also demanded that the Centre distribute 50 per cent of the revenue it collects,to the states for development work according to the states needs. He also pointed out that the norms devised by union government,for the distribution of resources and devolution of central funds,were too stringent and deliberately exclude states like Punjab from these centrally sponsored schemes.
He also accused the Centre of deliberately opting not to sanction big industries in Punjab. Whatever industry we had in our state was left with no other option except to shift base to the neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh,Uttrakhand and Jammu and Kashmir due to several concessions and incentives given to the industry thereby resulting in utter decay of local industry in Punjab,he said before demanding a special industrial package for Punjab as it was a border state.
Badal also made a strong pitch for the transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi speaking areas to the state and declared: Chandigarh is the soul and spirit of Punjab and must be transferred to us without any further delay. He also demanded that the river water dispute be resolved as per national and internationally accepted Riparian principles. On the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) issue,the chief minister said the SAD-BJP alliance had vehemently opposed the move which,he said,aimed to usurp the powers of the state governments contrary to the spirit of federalism.
The chief minister also slammed the Congress for seeking a separate Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for Haryana and accused the Opposition of trying to capture the SGPC by whipping up passions over the issue. He also rued that the Centre was causing an inordinate delay in calling the co-opt session of the newly elected SGPC which was mandatory for the election of office bearers and subsequently the passage of its annual budget before March 31st. All this would lead to financial chaos thereby hampering the functioning of the Sikhs religious organisation,he added.
While Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was speaking on the development in the due to his government, women Congress MLAs Karan Brar,Aruna Chaudhary and Harchand Kaur got up one after the other and wondered on what development he was talking about as,they claimed,that there were bad roads,poor sewerage and drinking water conditions in their constituencies.
Stating that the Leader of Oppositions speech was mostly in English,Badal (Senior) said one should speak in Punjabi in the house. To this,Jakhar said: Children of all the legislators in the house are studying in English schools. First put them in other schools and talk. We should promote English as industry will come to the state. Badal later apologised to Jakhar.