TAKING a cue from global summits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for an “agenda-less retreat” including one-on-one meetings with all Chief Ministers on Sunday, after his discussion with them on the future of the Planning Commission.
While the discussions on the new structure and design of the institution that will replace the Planning Commission will occupy the first half of the day — 10.30 am to 1.30 pm, a one-hour post-lunch “retreat” will be held from 3 pm to 4 pm. The Chief Ministers will not be accompanied by their aides during the “retreat”.
However, during the morning’s discussions, Modi will be accompanied by his top officers, and each Chief Minister will be allowed to bring along one aide, most likely the state Chief Secretary.
A state government official told The Indian Express that Modi will set the tone of the morning meeting at the Prime Minister’s Race Course Road residence. Following his opening remarks, each Chief Minister will be allowed an intervention of 5-7 minutes. They will not get an opportunity to interject when others are speaking.
Another government official of a BJP-ruled state said the Chief Ministers would be looking for signals on how aggressively they can push for reforms in their respective states, especially in areas that are a part of the concurrent list. “These include factor markets such as land and labour and social sectors such as education and health,” the official said.
A senior central government official said Modi wanted the Chief Ministers to talk up the reforms they have managed to push through. “Ideally, Prime Minister Modi would like the states to compete with each other to attract investments and generate employment,” the official added.
The states have been provided an agenda brief drafted by the Planning Commission on the evolution of the institution over the past 64 years. In this, the Planning Commission has emphasised that the central purpose of development planning remains even now. Many states, however, do not buy the argument and are of the view that the Planning Commission should be disbanded. Further, they contend that there is little flexibility left for states in planning and devicing schemes that are pertinent to their regions.
The agenda brief, however, has said the new institution will need to evolve a mechanism embodying the spirit of cooperative federalism as a dynamic and interactive partnership with states on priority issues in national development.