NITI Aayog meet: Opposition mounts attack on Modi government over economic policies

At the meeting of the NITI Aayog’s governing council on Sunday, the Opposition mounted a united attack on the Centre over its economic policies. The Chief Ministers of non-BJP ruled states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala – Chandrababu Naidu, H.D. Kumaraswamy and Pinarayi Vijayan – all criticised the implementation of key economic decisions taken by Prime Minister Modi-led NDA government such as demonetisation and GST. The Chief Ministers also called upon the Modi government to share half the estimated cost of the farm loan waiver in their respective states.

Among the Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu led the front and attacked the Modi government on several issues varying from demonetisation, special category status to global oil prices and widespread farm distress.

Apart from criticising demonetisation, Naidu also blamed the Centre for widespread farm distress due to its inability to adjust agricultural trade policies as per changes in global market conditions. He slammed the Centre for holding on to the benefits of low oil prices in the global market and not passing it on to consumers.

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister also attacked the Centre for misleading the country and the people of Andhra Pradesh on special category status promised to the state.

Alleging discrimination against Andhra Pradesh in extending special packages for backward areas, Naidu said the Centre allocated only Rs. 450 to the state as against Rs. 4,000 crore to UP’s Bundelkhand region.

Also read: It is the people who alone can make it work

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao also raised concern over farm distress and opined that a national agriculture policy was needed to ensure food security in the country.

Raising the issue again, Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy sought the Centre’s support in addressing the distress of farmers in his state.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Naidu also criticised the Finance Commissions. While Palaniswami criticised the Fourteenth Finance Commission which reduced inter re-shares of the state in the divisible pool from 4.969% to 4.023% leading to an annual resource loss of Rs. 60 billion, Naidu raised objections to the Fifteenth Finance Commission’s terms of reference on the use of the 2011 rather than 1971 Census data for population. Naidu said this could lead to a reduction in smaller states’ share in the Centre’s divisible pool and would also bring down their representation in democratic institutions like parliament. Mamata Banerjee seconded Naidu on the same, stating that doing so would amount to penalising states for their better performance in controlling population growth.

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