Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh asked the prime minister to review the decision of appointing activist Dr Binayak Sen on a Planning Commission panel, saying his contribution to health sector is "hugely exaggerated" and there is little on ground to support it.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the chief minister said the nomination of Sen, who has been convicted for waging war against the state for colluding with Naxals to set up a network, as member of a steering committee of Planning Commission on health is "shocking".
"There have been no precedents of this kind," he said, adding he will not attend any Planning Commission meeting till this matter is resolved. "It appears strange that no other name in the entire country could be found for nomination in the aforesaid committee. Moreover, the so called contribution of Dr Sen to health sector has been hugely exaggerated and there is little on ground to support it," the BJP leader said.
The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister wrote a similar letter to Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. The announcement to appoint Sen on the committee was made on May 11 following which the activist told PTI that he would like to bring "equity" in health related issues for deprived communities with the experience he gained by working amongst tribals and villagers of Chhattisgarh.
Raman Singh said, "The Planning Commission is the highest policy making body of country and is headed by your good self (prime minister). Needless to say, institutional integrity of the Planning Commission is of paramount importance. In this backdrop, the nomination of Dr Sen who has been convicted for waging war against the state is shocking and against all norms and propriety.
"It is an accepted principle that any person convicted for life imprisonment cannot be nominated as a member of any national level forum or committee and there have been no precedents of this kind," he said.
"I would earnestly request you to kindly intervene and review the decision taken in this regard. I am constrained and pained to take a decision to not to attend any Planning Commission meeting till this matter is resolved," Singh wrote in his one-page letter to the prime minister.
He said that it was quite disturbing for him to learn through media reports about Sen's nomination. "I would like to share my concern and that of the people of Chhattisgarh in this regard. You would be aware that having been convicted by a trial court, Dr Binayak Sen continues to remain a convict for sedition and also under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 as well as Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam, 2005.
"It is imperative to note that while Dr Sen's appeal is pending in the high court his conviction has not been set aside," he said. Singh said, "As you have declared on many occasions, Left Wing Extremism is the biggest threat to internal security and democracy of our country, the decision to take Sen on this committee will confound the people at large at this critical juncture when we are fighting a major battle against LWE with the help and support of the Union government."