Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has called for a recast of the constitution to give the country a genuine federal structure, but with the centre having exclusive jurisdiction on subjects of national concerns, such as defence, external affairs, currency, railway and communications.
The statement was made, while the CM was addressing a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the replacement of the Planning Commission of India with a new mechanism.
Welcoming the proposal of replacing the plan panel by a council of chief ministers headed by the PM, Badal added that federalism was only way to make India an economic superpower. He added that states must get 50% share out of central taxes and non-tax revenue, instead of the present 32% and funds must not be conditional.
“At present, the share of untied grants to states constitute 15% of the plan funds and the remaining 85% are determined by centre. This should be reversed, and state be given 85% as untied funds,” he added, claiming that other factors like the percentage of scheduled caste population, location disadvantage and contribution to food security must be considered. Badal, who is patron of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), “In the last 67 years of independent India, the SAD was the first party in the country to advocate a federal structure.”
Going beyond the agenda of the meeting, Badal claimed that the plan panel had been imposed on country’s constitutional structure through an administrative order violating the federal spirit, as it places excessive powers regarding planned development in the hands of the Centre.
Badal suggested the proposed council to be named as National and States Development Council (NSDC) having constitutional status and statutory powers, eliminating discretionary powers.
He added that though agriculture was a state subject all key decisions of the costs of inputs and outputs - prices of agricultural produce were taken by the centre without taking state governments in confidence.
“Education has been monopolised by the Centre. The country need to focus on providing basic amenities like drinking water, toilets, quality education instead of diverting resources on capital intensive projects like bullet trains,” he added, calling for the PM to help the three debt-stressed states – Punjab, Kerala and West Bengal.