Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao said on Saturday that he would boycott Sunday’s Niti Aayog meeting to protest “the Centre’s attitude”, lamented that “imperative” federalism had replaced cooperative federalism, and objected to PM Narendra Modi “dismissing welfare schemes as freebies”.
“The (Centre’s) message is either you do what we say or we will punish you,’’ the TRS leader told reporters. “Our boycott is aimed at prompting the PM to change his ways and do something good for the country, and not for any political reasons,’’ he said.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao not to attend NITI Aayog meeting Sunday in protest against what he calls the trend of Central Government discriminating against states. Writes to PM conveying his decision. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/rxtx4tZ3El
— Manoj C G (@manojcg4u) August 6, 2022
While requesting the prime minister to roll back the Goods and Services Tax on handloom weavers and the beedi industry, Rao also raised the issue of the rising prices of essential commodities.
“I have written a letter to the prime minister…,’’ the chief minister said, adding that he had written to Modi that the Niti Aayog had been started with the lofty objective of bringing the states on the same page with the Centre for ensuring the equitable development of our country in the true spirit of cooperative federalism. “The underlying principle was that cooperative federalism was the adhesive that would bind the state and Centre together as ‘Team India’ and help India emerge as a strong nation. The other idea behind the initiative of the Niti Aayog was the realisation that only strong states can make a strong nation,’’ he wrote.
“But recent unpleasant happenings have given rise to an inescapable realisation that the federal structure of India is being systematically eroded by some deliberate actions by the government of India,’’ the chief minister wrote, adding that “the blatant discrimination against some states even in the legitimate functions assigned to them in the Constitution leaves much to be desired”.
Accusing the Centre of failing to fulfil its promises, Rao wondered what the Niti Aayog had achieved in the past eight years. “It appears that the NDA government is not bothered about the Niti Aayog and there is no point in attending the meeting,” he said.
Rao said he felt happy when Niti Aayog had constituted a group of chief ministers to give recommendations on developmental issues. “However, it was short lived as the institution failed to live up to the expectations,’’ he said.
“The basis of these recommendations was the unanimous belief that not all the schemes contemplated, designed and finalised by the Centre, serve their intended purpose considering the vast diversity and different needs of states. With much pain and anguish, let me point out that such an important recommendation has been aside and on the contrary, I find the Centre to be micromanaging the schemes, giving a complete go-by to the state-specific needs which are best left to individual states,” he said.
Stating that the Niti Aayog’s recommendations were being ignored, Rao cited recommendations for a Rs 5,000-crore irrigation grant for Telangana’s Mission Kakatiya and another for a Rs 19, 205 crore assistance for Mission Bhagiratha to provide drinking water to every household in the state. “The Centre did not give even a paisa but unabashedly issues statements taking credit for the achievements of Telangana by claiming that under the central scheme of Jal Jeevan Mission, Telangana is able to provide drinking water,’’ he said.
Rao said that while in the last financial year the state spent Rs 1,90,000 crore, the amount received for central government schemes was just Rs 5,000 crore.
The TRS leader also hit out at Modi for criticising welfare schemes by calling them freebies. “Pensions for handicapped or disabled people are freebies? Is helping farmers by giving a financial incentive so that their land does not remain barren freebie [culture]?’’ he asked.
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He said that water for irrigation was not available in many states, drinking water was not available even in the national capital, and that farmers were not getting power supply.
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