“Set up national forum to discuss key issues of public interest”

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday sought the setting up of a national forum for discussing key issues of public and national interest and advocated the need to bridge the communication gap between the Centre and the State governments.

Mr. Badal was addressing a gathering at the “Shaheed Parivar Fund” function organised by the Hind Samachar group of newspapers at Jalandhar.

He said the absence of such a platform had resulted in a situation where the welfare of the general public was adversely impacted due to heavy concentration of powers with the Centre. With such a forum in place, all the parties would be able to contribute towards ensuring peace and communal harmony in the country thus paving the way for its all round development, according to an official release.

To curb terrorism, the octogenarian leader urged the Union government to evolve political consensus and collectively strive for eradication of social maladies, inequalities poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. He said it was the bounden duty of any government to provide security to the citizens.

Mr. Badal emphasised that to provide a fillip to all-round development, the grants given by the Union government must be in proportion to the taxes collected from the States. The Centre must formulate policies keeping in view the diversities, region-specific needs and the financial implications of its decisions. It must also avoid passing the burden of its decisions on to the State governments, he said.

The Chief Minister demanded that the Centre take adequate steps to check cross-border smuggling of drugs and narcotics, for which he exhorted the people to come forward and support the government to curb it.

RTE and States

Earlier talking to journalists, Mr. Badal said that for successful implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the Union government must ensure that the reimbursement to private schools for waiving the fees of poor students was released in advance. He said the financial burden of this Act should not fall on the State.