Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that all states played a role in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, and that this was an example of co-operative federalism.
Modi made the remarks at the seventh meeting of the NITI Aayog governing council in Delhi. Apart from Union ministers, 23 chief ministers, three lieutenant governors and two administrators also attended the meeting.
“Every state played a strong role as per its capacity in enabling the country to emerge from the coronavirus crisis,” the prime minister said. “Together, the Centre and state governments presented a major example of collective strength and co-operative federalism before the world.”
Modi said that state governments focussed on grassroots delivery of public services through co-operation across political lines.
However, two chief ministers – Telangana’s K Chandrashekar Rao and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar – did not attend the meeting, The Hindu reported.
Rao, in a letter to Modi on August 6, alleged that states were not being included as equal partners in the country’s development agenda. The country’s federal structure is being “systematically eroded by some deliberate actions by the Government of India”, the chief minister said.
Rao accused the Centre of micro-managing welfare schemes and ignoring state-specific needs. He said that in 2016, the NITI Aayog had recommended a grant of Rs 5,000 crore for Mission Kakatia, a Telangana government initiative to restore minor irrigation tanks.
The chief minister said that the NITI Aayog had also recommended central assistance of Rs 19,205 crore for drinking water supply scheme Mission Bhagiratha.
“The Government of India has not only ignored these recommendations but also did not release any money for these schemes,” he alleged.
Rao said that meetings of the NITI Aayog serve no constructive purpose, as chief ministers are only given a few minutes to speak.
Meanwhile, there was no official statement on why Nitish Kumar skipped the meeting. However, this was the fourth meeting called by the Centre since July 17 that the Bihar chief minister did not attend, The Times of India reported.
The NITI Aayog’s governing council discussed four topics during the meeting on Sunday – crop diversification, implementation of the National Education Policy in school education, implementation of the policy in higher education and urban governance.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel urged the Centre to extend the compensation grant by five years to states that lost revenue due to the implementation of Goods and Services Tax.
In July 2017, the Centre said that the states will be compensated for any loss of revenue from the new tax for up to five years. That window expired on June 30.
Sixteen states have demanded that the compensation should be extended on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.