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Jayalalithaa flays bid to usurp States' rights

Special Correspondent
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BATTING FOR STATES:Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram at the Chief Ministers' conference on Internal Security in New Delhi on Monday.— Photo Rajeev Bhatt
BATTING FOR STATES:Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram at the Chief Ministers' conference on Internal Security in New Delhi on Monday.— Photo Rajeev Bhatt

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday strongly defended the rights and interests of States and expressed concern over an emerging pattern wherein States' powers were sought to be abrogated either by the passage of Bills or issuance of notifications.

“Lack of consultation with the States and failure to take them into confidence is a cogent commentary on the system of governance at the Centre,” Ms. Jayalalithaa told the Chief Ministers' Conference on Internal Security in New Delhi.

She said the Union government decided “unilaterally” on the ongoing joint naval exercise off the Tamil Nadu coast in the Bay of Bengal with US nuclear-powered warships participating, and the State government was not taken into confidence.

“Such joint military exercises create panic reactions among the uninformed local public and, consequently, the State government is taken by surprise, caught fully unaware.”

The Centre did not permit the US Consul-General, Chennai, and senior Indian Navy officials based in the city to meet her. “This implies that the Central government has scant respect for constitutionally elected State governments.”

In another context, she referred to the need for infusion of funds to tackle problems such as cyber crime and the circulation of fake currency notes. “Capacity building and amelioration of skills make infusion of funds imperative. Sadly, the funds from the government of India are continuously being curtailed.”

The Chief Minister said that the leverage and operational magnitude of the States were sought to be kept under control by tightening finances.

“The constant attempts to reduce States to the level of glorified Municipal Corporations heavily dependent on the Centre for funds, is a travesty of the federal nature of our existence. This attitude is disturbing and the implication of such exercises is not conducive to either State or national growth.” Considering the State governments' multifarious functions and their limited potential to raise resources, the Union government should come forward to provide liberally for strengthening and modernising the police force.

“With all the avenues for raising financial resources being taken away one by one by the Central government, the State governments are finding it increasingly difficult to make both ends meet.”

She referred to the decline in the Central share in the modernisation of the Tamil Nadu Police from Rs.75.75 crore in 2007-08 to Rs.42.27 crore in 2011-12. “In contrast, my government sanctioned Rs.357 crore for police modernisation in the last financial year.” Describing the idea of separation of crime investigation from the law and order wing of the police, as provided for in the Supreme Court judgment on police reforms, as the “right way forward,” she, however, counselled that such large-scale changes could only be implemented gradually, as people should become familiar with the changing structures.

Calling for incentives to personnel of the intelligence wing, she wanted the Centre to reimburse the special incentive of 10 per cent of the basic pay given to the personnel of the State intelligence wing up to the level of Additional Superintendents of Police.

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