Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called on states to deepen their collaboration with the Union government on financial, educational and internal security matters, inaugurating a high-level Centre-state meet.
In his speech at the interstate council, a conclave of all chief ministers and leaders of union territories, the prime minister stressed the need for converging the country’s development agenda through open discussions and debate with states.
This is the first interstate council to be held since the last one in 2006 during the first tenure of the previous UPA government.
The interstate council embodied the NDA government’s “cooperative federalism”, a cornerstone of its governance model, the prime minister said.
The Modi government has frequently cited “cooperative federalism, a model similar to the US’s dual federalism, in which it has sought to devolve more financial legroom for the states and also find common goals in areas where there are exclusive jurisdiction of the states and the Centre.
Yet, the differences on key reforms such a good and services tax between some states and the main Opposition Congress are yet to be resolved.
“There are few occasions when the leadership of all states and union territories as well as the central leadership come together. This platform is a good example of cooperative federalism,” Modi said.
He said bigger leaps in education were needed to take the country forward. He also sought closer cooperation with states to modernise police to deal with complex security challenges.
Modi recapitulated the outcomes of the 14th Finance Commission, saying the share of states in tax had gone up to 42% from 33% earlier. Common financial goals could save states huge money, he said. “States have got 21% more in tax revenues in 2015-16 than in the previous year,” he said.
The prime minister cited cutting down kerosene subsidy to the needy as an area which could leave states with more cash for development programmes.
Modi said Aadhaar, which now covers 79% of the population, was the most important agenda. He claimed Aadhaar empowered citizens with direct cash transfer could bring faster and transparent delivery of services, while freeing up resources.
“We have to brave all criticism to focus on bringing transformational policies of social change,” said Modi.