Centre ought to have consulted States on terms of reference to FC: Manmohan Singh

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NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday remarked that the Centre ought to have consulted the State Governments before introducing additional terms of reference for the 15th Finance Commission seeking to create separate funds for Defence and Internal Security.
Asserting that unilateralism was not good for a federal polity and cooperative federalism, Singh said the best course would have been to go back to the Chief Ministers’ conference and consult with the States. “Otherwise there will be a strong feeling that the Central Government is trying to rob the States of its due resources and that is not good for the federal polity and cooperative federalism that we all swear by,” he added, addressing a seminar on ‘Additional terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission: Implications for the States’.
“Cooperative federalism demands give and take and therefore it is important that the Central Government should take the initiative to consult the States as often as necessary to carry them along rather than imposing its views,” Singh remarked.
Earlier, in July, the Centre changed the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission and mandated the panel to suggest ways for allocation of non-lapsable funds for defence and internal security. The Commission, which was to originally submit its report by October 30, has now been given time till November 30.
The seminar was attended by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac, CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
The change in the terms of reference is “undoubtedly” an attempt to give a fig leaf of respectability to a reduction in the proportion of the tax devolution that the Government wants, in order to fulfill its so called security obligations, asserted Ramesh. “The cooperative federalism under this Government has degenerated into competitive federalism, combative federalism, coercive federalism and convenient federalism,” he contended.
Yechury questioned the “legality” of the change in terms of reference at the last minute. The burden was being passed on to the States to create a security state. He asserted that the move was part of the RSS’s ~ the BJP’s ideological masters ~ ideological project to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra. “To convert the secular democratic republic into a Hindu rashtra that the RSS is seeking to do, you require a unitary state structure. Federalism is therefore antithetical to entire political project of the RSS. What we are seeing today, not only in the arena of fiscal federalism, but an overall attack on States, like the attack on Jammu & Kashmir.”
(Courtesy: The Hindu)