Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Saturday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he would be boycotting the 7th Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog scheduled to be held on August 7, as a mark of strong protest against the present 'discriminating' trend of the Centre towards States.
In a letter to Modi, KCR, as Rao is also known, said the country can develop only when States develop. Strong and economically vibrant States alone can make the nation strong, he said.
“In view of these facts, I do not find it useful to attend the 7th Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog scheduled to be held on August 7, 2022 and I am staying away from it as a mark of strong protest against the present trend of Central government to discriminate against the States and not treating them as equal partners in our collective effort to make the nation strong and developed,” Rao said in the letter, narrating a host of reasons for the boycott.
Alleging that recent “unpleasant happenings” have given rise to a realisation that the federal structure is being systematically eroded by some "deliberate actions" by the Centre, Rao said it is needless to say these developments are very much discouraging to "trail-blazing" States like Telangana.
“The blatant discrimination against some States even in the legitimate functions assigned to them in the Constitution leaves much to be desired,” he said.
He reminded Modi that though in the beginning NITI Aayog had constituted a group of Chief Ministers to give recommendations on developmental issues, it was kept aside and on the contrary the Centre is micromanaging the schemes giving a go-by to State-specific needs which are best left to individual States.
“It is not just in case of such schemes but Centre has also turned a Nelson's eye even to the recommendations of NITI Aayog itself...” KCR said.
He alleged that though there were recommendations from NITI Aayog for a grant of Rs 5,000 crore to Mission Kakatiya and Central assistance of Rs 19,205 to Mission Bhagiratha, the NDA government ignored them and did not release any money for the schemes. However, the State government has completed both the projects on its own.
“These examples are sufficient to say that the institution of NITI Aayog is rendered useless,” he said.
He alleged that the Centre had claimed credit for Telangana's achievements as it is one of the States which provides drinking water to every household under the banner of Jal Jeevan Mission, a Central scheme.
He lambasted the Centre for including the borrowings of State PSUs as State government borrowings, saying that it was not only done suddenly but with a clause of retrospective implementation which put brakes on the progress of the States.
“I may affirm that Niti Aayog has started with an objective of cooperative federalism, recognising that strong States make a strong nation. But, after seven years of functioning, it is now clear that this (cooperative federalism) was observed more in breach. The Centre's actions show that the initiative has gone astray as States are not included as equal partners in the national developmental agenda,” KCR said.
According to him, when the Planning Commission was in place earlier it used to have detailed interactive sessions with the States on the Annual Plan. Now there is neither a Plan nor any involvement of States and NITI Aayog and its meetings serve no constructive purpose.
KCR said as there was no planning and no spirit of cooperative federalism, the country is passing through a most difficult phase with unprecedented problems of falling rupee value, inflation, skyrocketing prices and increasing unemployment coupled with low economic growth.
He said the Centre has become a silent spectator to the problems and is resorting to playing on people's emotions.
According to him, statements from some of the leaders in high positions are disrupting the communal harmony and the social fabric of the nation besides inviting international criticism.
The propensity of the Centre to levy cess as an indirect tax is depriving States of their legitimate share in tax revenues and such “unilateral and irresponsible” of the Centre without taking into consideration the State's interests have nudged the country away from the development trajectory, he further alleged.
“This, I feel is not good for the future of 140 crore Indians,” he added.