Millennium Post

Modi spars with Montek over underachiever tag to Gujarat

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the Planning Commission were at loggerheads on Tuesday at the annual plan meeting. Modi accusing the Centre of adopting ‘big brother’ attitude, disregarding the federal structure.

The two-hour long meeting saw the Commission seeking to puncture Modi’s claims that it was all milk and honey in Gujarat and telling the chief minister that the state was lagging behind in several development indices.

At the meeting with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia where a plan of Rs 59,000 crore was approved for Gujarat, Modi raised a litany of complaints against the Centre.

In this context, he cited gas pricing, raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project and putting up gates to the dam. Modi, who was recently elevated as BJP’s Campaign Committee chief, departed from the normal practice by making a seven-minute audio-visual presentation to claim how states were not being given their due despite the country having a federal structure.

In his presentation, he accused the Centre of adopting a ‘big brother’ attitude towards the states.
He said the Centre makes schemes which create financial liability for the states and in this regard referred to the Right to Education and changes in programmes like National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

Modi wanted the states to have greater flexibility in implementation of centrally-sponsored schemes and desired that Planning Commission, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to act as a mediator between the state and the centre.

He said Gujarat’s central sales tax compensation claims of Rs 4500 crore were pending with the Centre.
The Planning Commission, however, highlighted to Modi the problems in Gujarat on the social welfare front with the state ranking 12th in the education field.

At the meet attended by minister of state for planning Rajiv Shukla, the Panel pressed the need for improvement in social welfare sector and increasing the enrollment of girls in schools.


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