Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday regional loyalties or ideologies sometimes could distort the national agenda and the sense of collective purpose. This comes in the wake of the Left parties opposing the operationalisation of the India-US civilian nuclear agreement.
“Sometimes, the resolution of problems acquires an excessively political hue, and narrow political considerations, based on regional or sectional loyalties and ideologies can distort the national vision and sense of collective purpose,” Singh said in his inaugural address at the fourth International Conference on Federalism attended by 400 delegates from 26 countries.
Singh also wondered whether a coalition government at the national level — formed by parties with varying national reach — was capable of providing the unity of purpose that was needed to govern a country. Or was it an essential outcome of federalism that successfully projects local aspirations at a national level, he asked.
“This political dimension of the Centre-state relations is yet another challenge facing a federal polity like ours,” he said.
The PM also wondered whether Centre-state relations could be conducted better under a single party system. “Or is a multi-party model, with national parties dominating the political scene, superior... where one can hope that all of them will take a national view on policy issues and help to reinforce the unity of the federation,” he said. In theory, Singh said, management of Centre-state relations should be smoother in a multi-party model. “However, the Indian experience suggests that even in this sort of world, the management of Centre-state relations can give rise to serious tensions,” he said and cited water disputes as a major challenge.