Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday said she would stay away from the conference of Chief Ministers on internal security, scheduled to be held in Delhi on Wednesday, arguing that the Centre had reduced such important meetings to mere rituals.

Ms. Jayalalithaa, who was forced to cut short her speech at the National Development Council meeting in Delhi last December, said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that such conferences were not a consultative process under the present government at the Centre, but a ritual in which the views of Chief Ministers were “taken as granted and treated casually”. “The current exercise too seems to be aimed at merely assembling the Chief Ministers to rubber stamp some measures predecided by the government of India without adequately considering the views of the States.”

She said Chief Ministers were equal partners with the Union government in governance. However, at such meets, they were being “constantly guillotined to cut short their speeches,” Ms.Jayalalithaa said. At the NDC meeting, her speech was subjected to “a so-called time restriction, effected in a humiliating manner by ringing a bell.”

The conference on internal security was an important event, and carried a long and weighty agenda of 12 subjects. “Uttering just their titles would take 10 minutes, which unfortunately, is the time being cavalierly allotted to the Chief Ministers to present their views,” she said.

Rather than attending a conference where Chief Ministers were rail-roaded to finish their speeches within 10 minutes, she was deputing Municipal Administration, Rural Development, Law, Courts and Prisons Minister K.P.Munusamy to attend the conference on her behalf, Ms.Jayalalithaa said.

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