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Center should not behave like “big brother” to states: Moily | India News


NEW DELHI: Former Union Minister M Veerappa Moily said on Sunday that the relationship between the Center and the states has become “more tense” under the administration led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that the government should not behave like an older brother.
In an exclusive interview with PTI, the former president of the Administrative Reform Commission also said that the government should convene a meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) to strengthen federalism.
Below is the transcript of the interview:
Q. The Center recalled the West Bengal chief secretary hours after the PM-Mamata meeting line. What is your view on this?
A. It is a total misunderstanding. The government of India should not act like a big brother. They have to cooperate and collaborate with the state government. Creating friction is not going to solve the problem. In a federal setting, the state will have to cooperate. You have to get their cooperation. Implementing programs, simply giving money, you are not going to solve it. This is not pretty.
The fault lies equally with the central government and the state government. Just because there is some misunderstanding, you can’t remember the chief secretary. This is not a good development. This is an assault on federalism. In regards to the reports on Mamata Banerjee about the lack of her meeting with the prime minister, she has given a clarification and that should be taken in the right spirit. It should not be politicized when the state is in danger. The prime minister should lend his support rather than criticize the prime minister.
Q. Is the center-state relationship crumbling, especially after Modi took over as prime minister in 2014? How do you see this?
R. It is more tense. That is what we have to look at. During such calamities (Cyclone Yaas) before, Congress or UPA never used to politicize such issues. They never used to incorporate politics. But today, politics has started in everything. Introspection will need to be done by Prime Minister Modi and the government of India. They shouldn’t act like a big brother. They will have to collaborate with state governments.
Q. Whether it is drugs, oxygen supply or vaccination campaigns, the country has witnessed how the Center and the opposition-ruled states have grappled with these issues.
A. Ultimately, whether in Kolkata, Bengaluru or Thiruvananthpuram, people are the same. They are all Indians and the government of India has duties towards all the citizens of this country, they cannot distinguish (between people). People from states ruled by other (opposition) parties are not foreigners, they are part of India. This is a dangerous trend for the unity and integrity of the country. That will ultimately affect the unity of the country.
Q. Is it due to a lack of trust or ideological differences?
A. We are citizens of a country. What is the ideological difference in it? We are politicizing everything. This is not a good trend. This will ultimately affect the unity and integrity of the country. Even when the prime minister, during his election rallies, called for a dual-engine government, that statement itself is dangerous. How can a state ruled by another party be single-engineered?
P. The Center and the states have had a relationship of conflict rather than cooperation in recent decades. What should be the mechanism for conflict resolution?
R. It is time for the prime minister to convene a meeting of the National Integration Council. Of course, this has also been forgotten due to differences. Nehru and Indira always used to call a meeting of the National Integration Council. That concept has been forgotten.
You know that the Planning Commission has been dissolved, there is nothing to hold the whole country (together). This is the most unfortunate trend. The Planning Commission was there for financial integration. Now, due to concerns about political integration, there is no one. They have integrated everything into the Niti Aayog.
The Niti Aayog has become a department of the government of India. It does not have autonomy or autonomous operation. The planning commission used to enjoy a lot of autonomy. The National Integration Council meeting used to be a very important meeting and its procedures used to bring all the states together.
The Planning Commission concept was the best and had served the country. It will have to be revived. The NIC is the best method to unite and strengthen federalism, which must be revived. It is time for the prime minister to rethink all these things that he has delayed, which is not good for the country.
Q. You have also headed the second Administrative Reform Commission. What are your suggestions for the government?
A. I have given 15 reports on various aspects, including disaster management, but this government is just forgetting about them. An unfortunate aspect of this Modi government after 2014 is that they do not have the institutional memory that the Congress party had. The nation needs institutional memory, not political memory. The 15 reports submitted on various aspects need to be re-examined and will need to be implemented.
Q. Apart from this, what else would you like to suggest to the government?
A. All this anarchy, all this confusion is because one person would like to control everything. The thought of a man will not be the national thought. National thinking should be the thinking of a PM. There should be a lot of decentralization. After all, states should have enough and enough autonomy that it cannot be taken away from them at all.

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