Modi writes to PM over changes in RPF Act

Could be a serious blow to federalism: Gujarat CM

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that the proposed move to amend the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957, to give police powers to the force, was a “serious blow” to the federal structure of the country.

Modi’ missive to the PM was an apparent bid to outwit West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue of federalism.  The move to amend the RPF Act was initiated during Mamata’s tenure as Union railway minister. It continues to be high on her agenda. Modi’s letter  to Singh came in response to a letter sent by the Centre seeking the opinion of the state governments on the issue.

Modi said that after the notification of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC),  mooting “a Bill to give police powers to RPF” was “another attempt to curtail states’ powers.” He alleged that it was violative of Article 246 of the Constitution as “public order” and “police” are state subjects.

Well before the content of  Modi’s letter could reach the Rail Bhavan, a tweet by Modi created a commotion in the ministry. “After NCTC, the proposed amendment to Railway Protection Force Act, 1957, is another serious blow to the federal structure of the nation,” Modi tweeted. And, when Mamata was meeting with the prime minister, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi was closeted with senior officials to discuss the fall out of Modi’s letter.

Sources said the ministry was surprised at Modi’s statement as the proposed amendment had its roots in 2003 during the NDA regime when there was a move to empower the RPF to maintain security inside trains. Nitish Kumar was a railway minister.

Modi termed  “ridiculous” the argument of the ministry that it was essential to give power of a police officer to RPF personnel because trains run through several states and passengers find it difficult to lodge a complaint with GRP, as several jurisdictions are often involved.

Singh assures Didi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the Centre will take the concerns of state governments on the NCTC issue after she called for a hold the decision till a consensus is arrived at. “The PM assured the chief minister that he has requested the home minister to find ways to take the concerns of the state governments on board on the issue of the NCTC,” said a statement released by the  PMO.

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