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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Modi sways plan panel with forceful rebuttals

Chetan Chauhan , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 18, 2013
First Published: 21:02 IST(18/6/2013) | Last Updated: 01:21 IST(19/6/2013)

The scared Planning Commission was under the grip of NaMo fever on Tuesday even as Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi gave a new development slogan “sabka vikas sabka saath” and allowed his officials to answer state’s criticism by the panel while donning the role of a mentor.

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In earlier annual plan meetings, Modi had himself countered criticism of his developmental model but this time he asked officials to set the record straight by blaming wrong interpretation of the data, especially on school education, to project Gujarat in a bad light.

“He (Modi) did not speak much,” a plan panel official said and added that Gujarat’s video presentation had some stark remarks against the central government policies.

At one point, the Centre was accused of playing the big brother role in policy making with reference to Home Ministry’s National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) and claimed that the states were expected to follow suit.

“We find that the propensity of the Centre to create huge administrative and financial responsibilities for the states through the instrument of central legislation is on the rise,” the presentation said, while citing Right To Education as an example of creating undue financial burden on the state governments.

Modi’s presentation also drew attention of the commission towards MM Punchhi Commission recommendation of the Centre paying for additional expenditure liabilities of the state on account of the implement of Central legislations. “An early decision on this recommendation is sorely needed,” it said.

Panel sources agreed with many points raised by Modi on gas pricing, problems in flow of funds to the states to improve irrigation but differed with him on social sector progress. “Benefit of economic growth has not reached the poor especially the scheduled tribes,” a senior functionary said, adding that Modi had already announced that 42% of the public money would be spent for social sector. 

What Modi may not have realised was that among many at the meeting was a person associated with the Congress war-room and was later seen carrying a copy of Modi’s presentation. The person, however, claimed he had come to attend another meeting.
  
Ending the meeting at happy note, Modi thanked the Planning Commission for approving the plan of Rs. 59,000 crore as against Rs. 58,500 crore demanded by the state.

Modi media closed
For hours, the Planning Commission was out of bound for media as Yojana Bhawan was virtually taken over by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's security personnel.

The plan panel officials expressed helplessness raising Modi's security bogey. 

Not only that, the routine media interaction on first floor was shifted to below the staircase at the reception, where journalists jostled to find a suitable place.

Modi's security personnel were calling riot still some journalists protested and said they would boycott the BJP's poll mascot's interaction.

Such was Modi's buzz that some Planning Commission officials had called their family members to have his glimpse. On road outside Yojana Bhawan, people were waiting to see him through the iron grill.


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