Addressing chief ministers and lieutenant governors of states and Union territories at a meeting of the Inter-State Council, being held after nearly 10 years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the country could progress only if the Centre and states “walk shoulder to shoulder”.
Raising the issue of internal security, he also called for intelligence-sharing and increased coordination among agencies to enable the country to “constantly remain alert and updated”.
“We have to discuss internal security challenges, the solutions to these challenges, and mutual cooperation in this regard. The internal security of the country cannot be strengthened until we focus on intelligence-sharing, ensure greater coordination among agencies, and equip our police with modern approach and technology,” Modi said, chairing the 11th meeting of the Inter-State Council at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Describing the Inter-State Council meeting as the “most significant platform for strengthening Centre-state and inter-state relations”, the Prime Minister said there were only a few occasions when the leadership of the Centre and states come together. “This forum of cooperative federalism is the perfect setting to deliberate on the interests of the people, address their problems, and take collective and concrete decisions. It highlights the vision of the makers of our Constitution,” he said, while urging CMs and L-Gs to share their thoughts and suggestions in a “free and frank manner”.
The CMs of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir — Akhilesh Yadav, Siddaramaiah and Mehbooba Mufti, respectively — did not attend the meeting. J&K is in the middle of a crisis following violent protests after the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani.
Among the issues taken up at the meeting were recommendations of the Punchhi Commission on Centre-State relations, use of Aadhaar as an identifier, use of Direct Benefit Transfer for providing subsidies, benefits and public services, improving the quality of school education, and incentivising better performance.
Quoting what former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said at the same forum 16 years ago, Modi urged the states to use it as an instrument to strengthen India’s democracy, society and polity. Quoting Vajpayee, Modi said, “In a democracy as big and diverse as ours, debate, deliberation and discussion help evolve policy that relates to the ground reality.”
He said, “The nation can progress only if the Union and state governments walk shoulder to shoulder. It would be difficult for any government to successfully implement a scheme on its own. Therefore, provision of adequate financial resources is as important as the responsibility for implementation.”
With the acceptance of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations, the states’ share in Central taxes has increased from 32 per cent to 42 per cent, he said. This means that states now have greater financial resources for their requirements, he added.