Opposition chief ministers on Monday used the annual meet on security to attack the government over the proposed national counter terrorism centre, claiming it was against federalism even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached out to them saying the issue will be discussed separately on May 5.
"We will discuss the NCTC on May 5 in a separate meeting as some chief ministers suggested," the Prime Minister said while addressing the meet.
Later, in order to build pressure on the government, non-Congress chief ministers held separate parleys. J Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu, Naveen Patnaik of Odisha, Narendra Modi of Gujarat and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, all of whom are opposed to the NCTC, joined in the talks.
United Progressive Alliance partner Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also opposed to the NCTC, did not attend the opposition meeting.
The chief ministers claim that giving police powers to the proposed NCTC will trample upon the rights of the states and impact the federal structure of the country.
While Modi said the move was creating distrust between the central government and the states, Jayalalithaa said it has reduced the states to "glorified municipalities".
"Along expected lines," is how Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah chose to describe the opposition chief ministers' remarks in his Tweet message.
"Whether it is the national counter terrorism centre, railway protection force or the border security force, the government's unilateral activity is creating an atmosphere of distrust between the Centre and the state... I urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bridge the gap," Modi told reporters at the conference.
Jayalalithaa accused the central government of bringing the states down to the level of glorified municipal corporations by restricting their operational magnitude, tightening finances and encroaching upon states' powers.
"The constant attempts to reduce states to the level of glorified municipal corporations heavily dependent on the Centre for funds is a travesty of the federal nature of our existence. This attitude is disturbing and the implication of such exercises is not conducive to either state or national growth," she said.
Earlier, the Prime Minister opened the annual chief ministers' meet on security and said left-wing extremism, religious fundamentalism, ethnic violence and terrorism are major challenges facing the country.
He urged states to fight these challenges together with the central government.
"Left-wing extremism, religious fundamentalism, ethnic violence and terrorism are the major internal security challenges facing the country... I urge the states to fight them together with the Centre," Manmohan Singh said.