Jaya accuses Centre of stifling CMs' voices

Jaya accuses Centre of stifling CMs' voices

Creating a stir and marking a stormy start to the National Development Council (NDC) meeting, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha on Thursday staged a walkout during the middle of her speech accusing the Centre of “stifling” the voice of chief ministers of states ruled by opposition parties.

It all began when a bell rang to remind the Tamil Nadu chief minister that the 10 minutes allotted to her was over.

Jayalalitha stormed out of the venue, Vigyan Bhavan, and told the waiting mediapersons that it was a “big humiliation” for her to be stopped from completing her speech at the NDC meeting.

“It stifled the voice of the chief ministers who are in the opposition,” she remarked.
Claiming that restricting each chief minister to speak for a mere 10 minutes was a new method, the AIADMK supremo said she had come prepared to raise several points to highlight the points that were of interest to both Tamil Nadu and the nation.

“But I was told only 10 minutes will be allowed to each chief minister. On that, if we speak beyond the alloted 10 minutes then a bell would ring. I began my speech and as the 10 minutes were up, they rang a bell. It was a big humiliation,” she said.

Centre refutes charge

The Centre, however, refuted Jayalalitha’s charges and said there was no discrimination. Minister of State for Planning Rajiv Shukla said no leader should make political capital out of such meetings while sources indicated that each chief minister was forewarned about the time restriction.

Jayalalitha was reading out the 10th page of her 28-page speech when the bell rang.
Jayalalitha, who left for Chennai immediately cutting short her stay, said 10 minutes was not enough to articulate the views. There had been many occasions where chief ministers were allowed to speak for 25 to 35 minutes, she noted.

“To show my protest, I have walked out of the NDC meeting because the plan document itself is so lengthy and encompasses so many subjects...Just by allowing 10 minutes and humiliating us in this way, they need not have to call us all the way to Delhi to participate in this meeting,” she said.

Making the Centre’s stand clear, Shukla said: “The prime minister showed a gesture by giving an opportunity to her to speak first, immediately after his speech, though her turn was to come much later. The time alloted to each chief minister was precisely 10 minutes.”

According to him, there was a long list of speakers, including 35 chief ministers and governors, Union ministers etc and the time allocated to each had been fixed.

“The same arrangement has been made for chief ministers of the Congress and non-Congress ruled states. The buzzer is being pressed even for the Congress chief ministers. So where is the discrimination? The leaders should not make political capital out of such events,” Shukla said.
 

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