Panel needs reorientation, not political burial: Cong

Panel needs reorientation, not political burial: Cong

Chief ministers from nine Congress-ruled states and West Bengal here on Sunday not only opposed the Centre’s move to “dismantle” the Planning Commission but also favoured “reorientation,” and not a “political burial,” of the institution.

“In our zeal to create new waves, let us not cause irreparable damage to institutions that have consistently and significantly delivered as we have much to gain in being partners in our tryst with destiny,” Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told a meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the future of the plan panel.

“There may have been certain shortcomings but there are also inherent strengths. It is important to retain the grain and expunge the chaff. What the Commission needs is reorientation and not a political burial,” he said.

Similar views were echoed by the chief ministers of Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Mizoram was represented by its finance minister.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not attend the meeting but wrote a letter to Modi in which she supported the suggestion of strengthening the existing Inter-State Council (ISC) by assigning it the “decision-making responsibilities of the Planning Commission”. The ISC secretariat would have to be strengthened and the National Development Council would be subsumed with the new body.

“We should take great care not to dismantle an existing functional mechanism without putting in place a credible and capable body with a specific constitutional or statutory mandate,” she said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi opposed the move to scrap the commission. “Perhaps, what is required is to reorient and reform the commission to meet the needs of the current era,” he said.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said the Centre should have consulted the states earlier before taking any decision to scrap the body.

The Congress chief ministers were also critical of the Centre for convening the meeting after the prime minister had announced the decision to dismantle the commission. Modi had made the announcement in his maiden Independence Day address. They wanted Modi to convene a meeting of the National Developmental Council to discuss the strengthening the Commission.

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