New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday rejected Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's charge that non-Congress ruled states were discriminated against at the National Development Council (NDC) meet and said that no leader should make political capital at such events.

"The Prime Minister showed a gesture by giving an opportunity to her to speak first, immediately after his speech, though her turn was to come much later. The time allotted to each Chief Minister is precisely 10 minutes," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said.

He reasoned that since there was a long list of speakers, including 35 Chief Ministers, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, the Finance Minister and the Agriculture Minister, the time allocated to each had been fixed.

"The same arrangement has been made for Chief Ministers of Congress and non-Congress ruled states. The buzzer is being pressed even for the Congress Chief Ministers. So where is the discrimination? The leaders should not make political capital out of such events," Shukla said.

The Minister maintained that the NDC meeting should be used by the Chief Ministers to achieve something for the people of their state instead of "making an issue out of a non-issue".

Jayalalithaa created a stir when she abruptly walked out of the NDC meeting, alleging that she was not given enough time to speak as she is not the Chief Minister of a Congress ruled state.

Shukla said it is not appropriate for a leader of Jayalalithaa's stature to walkout of the NDC meet.

Law Minister Ashwini Kumar said that the same rules were being applied for Congress and non-Congress Chief Ministers. "Jayalalithaa even said during her speech that the rest of the written speech may be considered as read," he said.

Downplaying the incident, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, "There is a format which is there is every meeting" and all Chief Ministers and Administrators of Union Territories were given equal time for them to make their contribution at the meeting.

"Merely because a time-limit has been set and the time limit has been enforced and applies across the board does not mean that any person take personal embarrassment to it or try and extrapolate certain motives to it. Other Chief Ministers also would speak and once the bell rang, they conceded their floor to their colleagues," he said.

Tewari said, "If at all the Chief minister of Tamil Nadu has made such an observation, I would just like to request her that possibly the format of the meeting and the advisories which have circulated with regard to time limit may be revisited."


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