New Delhi: In a blistering attack, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took the Centre to task for making attempts to "tinker" with the federal structure, particularly in the implementation of development schemes.
   
Modi, addressing the National Development Council meeting here, also highlighted the "widespread disenchantment" among the people who were becoming "increasingly impatient" with growing corruption.
   
"It is with a sense of great anguish and deep regret that I wish to draw the attention of this august body to attempts being made increasingly by the Central government to tinker with the federal structure mandated by the Constitution," he told the meeting here.
   
Asking the Centre to observe "federal dharma", Modi said extreme vigilance and caution has to be exercised to ensure that all constitutional authorities were allowed to carry out their mandated functions.
   
On corruption, the Gujarat Chief Minister said it was "painful" to read the comments of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India that the "credibility of the government is at its lowest since independence".
   
Modi said there was a "credibility crisis" in the country and the confidence of people in governance had been shaken to the core.
   
"Large scale corruption has undermined the fate of the common citizen in our system of governance. Production of voluminous reports to reform governance is not sufficient. Transparency and fairness have to be clearly demonstrated to change public perception," he said.

Modi hits out at the Centre for being inconsistent with the federal fiscal system while transferring resources to states which has led to problems relating to administration
and financial discipline.

"It is ironical and sad that while progressive states are empowering people and decentralising decision making, the Central government is moving in opposite direction," he said.

While funds were placed directly in the hands of district level agencies by Central ministries, the onus for implementation, monitoring and accountability remains with the state government, he said.

"This unusual procedure of bypassing state governments weakens them and results in poor quality outcomes," Modi said calling for a review and redesign of the system of allocation of Central assistance in the 12th Plan.

He stressed on the need to see states as partners in development and involve them for active consultation instead of unilateral announcements of centrally-sponsored schemes.

"During the 11th Plan, we have seen enough instances of major schemes yielding sub-optimal outcomes because the schemes gave little or no flexibility to the states," he said.

Modi demanded a "structured mechanism" to be set up to resolve pending issues with the Centre.

"It has been observed that many critical issues of states remain pending for resolution by the Central government for years...It almost appears that it is for the states to repeatedly knock on the doors of the Central government which is oblivious to their pleas," he said.

"There is an urgent need to set up a structured mechanism which addresses such issues and resolves them in a time-bound manner," Modi said.

Modi said there were several issues such as non-payment of royalty on crude oil as per statutory provisions, no decision on allocation of PNG/CNG, arbitrary reduction of kerosene quota sold through PDS and a decision on national status for Narmada project pending with the Centre.

Gujarat has taken several pioneering initiatives in connecting remote and far-flung villages as well as building school rooms and appointing teachers before central schemes came into existence.

"Gujarat should have been reimbursed and rewarded for its initiatives, but was in fact penalised for being proactive and progressive," he claimed.

Modi lamented that the Planning Commission had not made a comprehensive analysis of the objectives and achievements in the 11th Plan.

"It is important that the meeting of the NDC does not become a ritual. At the beginning of any Five Year plan a concise review of the previous Plan should be done, and at the same time it is important we should have a vision document for the new Plan," he said.

Modi said Gujarat has developed a unique 50 point programme which will become the blue print for the state's approach to the 12th Plan.

He said Gujarat's development strategy would seek to achieve sustainable double digit growth with uniform growth in agriculture, manufacturing and services.

Non-UPA ruled states criticise Centre

Non-UPA ruled states on Saturday criticised the Centre for its policies towards them with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa launching scathing attacks by accusing it of weakening the federal structure.

"I am not sure that the government of India recognizes the states as partners, leave alone equal partners, and respects their viewpoints," Jayalalithaa said in her speech that was circulated at the National Development Council meeting here.

"There are attempts by the Centre to weaken the states with too much interference thereby reducing them to the status of glorified municipal corporations," she said.

"Price rise is an area where the central policies have failed and are even counter-productive," Jayalalithaa said, adding that prices of food and fuel have been rising
continuously and "heaping misery on people".

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati stressed on the need to "rise above party politics" to ensure speedier development of the backward regions.

She said as the objectives of inclusive growth could not be fully met during the 11th Five Year Plan, there was a need to initiate concrete measures during the 12th Plan to ensure
speedier development of backward regions and to bring the "downtrodden" into the mainstream of growth.

Mayawati also said that the common man was suffering due to high inflation and the situation on high prices of essential commodities was serious. "While the consumers are suffering because of price rise, economic development is getting affected as entrepreneurs are wary of investing capital," she said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar voiced concern over the rapid growth in the share of the Central plan in the Gross Budgetary Support at the expense of the share of the state plan.

"This militates against the very concept of a federal economy and inclusive development. I would sincerely urge that we should consider reversing this trend by strengthening the roots of our federal structure," Kumar said.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said the development strategy pursued by the Centre had widened regional inequalities and the northeastern states were victims of it.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the state felt it was being discriminated against by the Centre as it has been "virtually excluded from accessing most of the national programmes."

(JPN/Agencies)