At NITI Aayog Meet, Opposition Links Centre’s Politics with Economic Woes


New Delhi: Amid the growing chorus for opposition unity to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party in next year’s general elections, the chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states used Sunday’s meeting of the NITI Aayog’s governing council to mount a coordinated attack on the Centre over its economic policies, especially those relating to the agricultural sector, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the national “Team India” spirit.
The chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala – Chandrababu Naidu, H.D. Kumaraswamy and Pinarayi Vijayan – called upon the Modi government to share half the estimated cost of the farm loan waiver in their respective states.
Leading the opposition’s attack, Naidu faulted the implementation of key economic decisions taken by the Modi government like demonetisation and also sought changes in the Fifteenth Finance Commission’s terms of references that he said discriminated against better-performing states.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister also blamed the Centre’s inability to adjust agricultural trade policies to changes in global market conditions for widespread farm distress. He pitched for the implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee’s recommendations on minimum support price (MSP) for farm produce and also suggested changes in the Centre’s crop insurance scheme.Naidu also expressed reservations over the decision to use the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011 to identify beneficiaries for social welfare schemes, saying it could limit access to the benefits.
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister said the Finance Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill’s ill-drafted provisions, like those that envisage converting deposits, have caused widespread panic among bank people. He also said that there is a severe cash crunch in the country, which is affecting farming activities and disbursal of pension.Naidu attacked the Centre for not passing on the benefits of low oil prices in the global market to consumers.He also accused the Centre of misleading the country on special category status promised to the divided state. “The Union government tried to mislead the people of India by announcing special assistance measure in lieu of special category status,” Naidu said.
He said the people of Andhra Pradesh are angry as the BJP’s manifestos have been promising special status to the state for ten years. Naidu’s demand found support from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who reiterated a similar demand for his own state.
Naidu also alleged that the Centre has discriminated against Andhra Pradesh in extending special packages for backward areas, saying it allocated just Rs 450 crore to the state as against Rs 4,000 crore to UP’s Bundelkhand region. Moreover, it took back Rs 350 crore after sanctioning it to the state, in a move that militates against the spirit of cooperative federalism.
On demonetisation, he said, adequate care was not taken in rolling out and managing its implementation.