Opposition unites against scrapping of Plan panel

What it needs is reorientation and not renaming or a political burial: Anand Sharma

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:36 pm IST

Published - December 08, 2014 03:18 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chief Ministers and Governors of various States, in New Delhi on Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chief Ministers and Governors of various States, in New Delhi on Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to hold the first Centre-State consultation on replacing the Planning Commission has provided ammunition to the Opposition.

With the Parliament in session, the Opposition is preparing to team up against the decision and the manner in which it has been taken. They are likely to attack the Prime Minister for “first scrapping the Planning Commission and then seeking suggestions for its replacement,” an Opposition MP in the Lok Sabha told The Hindu . He said the Opposition parties were holding consultations.

“The move is short-sighted and dangerous. It will also have long term adverse impact on Centre-State relations... What the Planning Commission needs is reorientation and not renaming or a political burial,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said, reacting sharply to Mr. Modi’s meeting with Chief Ministers.

Mr. Sharma said Mr. Modi had called the meeting nearly four months after unilaterally announcing that the Commission would be disbanded. “It is ironic that the Prime Minister has claimed that the move is to empower State governments and strengthen the federal structure, after having taken the arbitrary decision without convening the meeting of National Development Council or consulting States.”

The party’s sentiments were echoed in the speeches of its Chief Ministers at the meeting. Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled States, on the other hand, praised Mr. Modi’s revamp plan.

“It was unfortunate on the part of the Central government to unilaterally do away with the Planning Commission that came into being in 1950, [and] which had been playing a pivotal role in the development of the country,” Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said. He added that the Planning Commission had been instrumental in ensuring social equality, decentralised planning and monitoring of human development, especially of the socially and economically backward segments in the country’s population. Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Nabam Tuki said, “I firmly believe that this spirit of national consensus must continue.”

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said the practice of ‘one size fits all’ ought to be discarded by the new body to help States with differing needs to develop. He said the contribution made by the Planning Commission in ‘challenging times’ could not be ignored. “We have to incorporate changes based on experience gained over a period of time,” Mr. Yadav added.

The Left parties are also likely to oppose the move in Parliament. CPI(M) MP Mohammad Salim said Mr. Modi’s move was aimed at “providing a backdoor entry to the private sector in planning, in the name of consultation.”

While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee skipped the meeting, deputing her Finance Minister Amit Mitra to attend it, she had written to Mr. Modi on December 4 saying it would be appropriate to assign the decision-making responsibilities of the Planning Commission to the Inter-State Council. “We should take great care not to dismantle an existing functional mechanism without putting in place a credible and capable body,” Ms. Banerjee cautioned in her letter.

JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav had said on Saturday said, “Our party will oppose the manner in which the decision to dismantle the Planning Commission was taken.”

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