Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi made use of the National Development Council (NDC) forum, convened to discuss the Approach Paper to the Twelfth Five Year Plan, to launch a blistering attack on the Manmohan Singh government on the political and economic fronts.

In a hard-hitting speech, Mr. Modi accused the United Progressive Alliance of attempting to tinker with the federal structure mandated by the Constitution and raked up the issue of ‘large scale of corruption' and ‘credibility crisis of the government.'

“It is with a sense of great anguish and deep regret that I wish to draw the attention of this august body to attempts being made increasingly by the Central government to tinker with the federal structure mandated by the Constitution,” Mr. Modi said.

He referred to the recent observations of the Controller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and said that it was ‘painful' to read that the “credibility of the government is at its lowest since independence.” Mr. Modi also talked about what he termed ‘widespread disenchantment' among the people who were becoming ‘increasingly impatient' with growing corruption.

The Chief Minister counselled the Centre to observe ‘federal dharma' and maintained that extreme vigilance and caution had to be exercised to ensure all constitutional authorities were allowed to carry out their mandated functions.

“Large-scale corruption has undermined the faith of the common citizen in our system of governance. Production of voluminous reports to reform governance is not sufficient. Transparency and fairness have to be clearly demonstrated to change public perception,” he said.

He charged the Centre with being inconsistent with the federal fiscal system while transferring resources to States, which had led to problems relating to administration and financial discipline. “It is ironical and sad that while progressive States are empowering people and decentralising decision making, the Central government is moving in the opposite direction.”Mr. Modi took exception to direct transfer of funds by the Centre to the district-level agencies and said that the unusual procedure of bypassing State governments weakens them and results in poor quality outcomes.

“It has been observed that many critical issues of the States remain pending resolution by the Central government for years... It almost appears that it is for the States to repeatedly knock on the doors of the Central government, which is oblivious to their pleas. There is an urgent need to set up a structured mechanism which addresses such issues and resolves them in a time-bound manner,” Mr. Modi said.

Bihar for special status

In contrast to Mr. Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stuck to issues related to his State and sought special category status for Bihar. Noting the ‘big gap' between the growth of per capita income and per capita Gross Fixed Capital Formation through Central investment in Bihar and other States of the country, Mr. Kumar said solutions to these problems lay in according special category status to the State.

Thanking the Centre for constituting an inter-ministerial group on the issue, he said: “We expect the inter-ministerial group would favourably look at genuine concerns of Bihar and extend all possible support for its development and growth.”

He also demanded that the caste census be separated from the socio-economic census and conducted under the Registrar General of India. Mr. Kumar also sought the Centre's support to the State's plan to launch a rainbow revolution for holistic development of agro-based production system.