It juxtaposes “efficient” performance of States it rules and “dismal” show of Congress governments

Mindful of the sensitivities of some of its partners and the race to identify a prime ministerial candidate within the party, the BJP has said the day-long conference of BJP Chief Ministers has given a “strong ray of hope” for an NDA-led alternative at the Centre.

A statement issued at the end of the conference held here on Saturday did not mention the debate on which party should lead the coalition. Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani’s recent remarks on the possibility of an ally of either the BJP or the Congress heading the government after the 2014 Lok Sabha election has sparked a controversy in the NDA.

Attended by all central leaders, the conference took stock of the political situation, in the backdrop of several corruption scandals, the serious economic crisis and drought in some States, and how the NDA-ruled States were coping with the situation.

The third of its kind, the conclave is essentially seen as an endeavour by the BJP to trumpet the “efficient performance” of the States it rules, compared with the “dismal” show of the Congress-ruled States in the run-up to the Assembly elections in four of the States the party is in power.

Yashwant Sinha, convener of the policy formulation action group, told journalists here: “It is in this context of gloom, despair and growing anger at the UPA’s misrule that the conclave of the BJP Chief Ministers was held. The conclave provides a strong ray of hope — based on the actual performance of the BJP/NDA-led State governments — for an alternative at the Centre, guided by our commitment to good governance and Antyodaya-oriented development.”

He said the economic crisis could have been far worse if it had not been for the spectacular agricultural growth achieved by some BJP-ruled States. Both Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat achieved over 10 per cent agriculture growth. Wheat production in Madhya Pradesh almost equalled that of Haryana, and Chhattisgarh’s growth was “impressive.”

The conference said the Congress treated the States as subservient entities, in defiance of federalism, and demanded meticulous implementation of the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission and the Poonchi Committee.

Overhaul needed

The statement called for an overhaul of the federal structure to provide for a fair sharing of financial receipts among the Centre and the States. The areas of direct State tax collections were coming down, so did the percentage allocated to the States from the national receipts, it noted.

“We need to de novo reset the relationship between the Centre and the States. A first step could be an active discussion at the National Development Council, reactivation of the Inter-State Council (which has not been convened since 2006), implementation of the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission and the Poonchi Committee; (ii) we need to drastically reduce the many Centrally sponsored schemes and give more flexibility to the States to design their own schemes, along with sufficient untied funds. The Congress’s policy of ‘one size fits all’ is certainly violative of the federal principle.”

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