Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday walked out of the 57th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) here, accusing the Centre of “stifling the voice of Chief Ministers,’’ “treating shabbily a constitutional authority” and “humiliating” them by ringing a bell during her speech.
“The voice of the CMs has been stifled. They were not allowed to speak freely. At the very beginning we were told that only 10 minutes will be allotted to each CM and after that a bell will ring. This is unheard of. This has never been the practice before,” she told journalists while coming out of the venue – Vigyan Bhavan.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said, “If this is the way they are going to treat the CMs, the Centre could stop calling such conferences and stop inviting them and we have got enough work back home.”
She had attended many conferences, including meetings of the NDC and CMs and such practices were never adopted before. “This is utter humiliation of a CM who has come all the way to Delhi to present the views of the State government, in the interest of the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu and in the national interest.”
The UPA government was showing discrimination. Those who supported the Centre were allowed to speak for 30 or 35 minutes and even more sometimes. “At the last conference that I attended, the Assam Chief Minister was allowed to speak for more than 35 minutes. It is impossible to convey the views of the State government in such a short period as 10 minutes,” she said.
The CMs were asked to come to Delhi to discuss the 12th Plan Document, which was so lengthy and encompassed so many subjects that it was practically impossible to convey everything a CM wanted to say in 10 minutes.
Ms. Jayalalithaa alleged that the treatment meted out to her was not fair. “This is not democracy. The NDC meeting had turned out to be an exercise in humiliation.”
Informed sources said she had hardly completed speaking from the 10th page of a 28-page speech copy when the bell was rung and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was conducting the proceedings, called the next speaker — Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy — to speak.
At this stage Ms. Jayalalithaa moved out of the hall along with State Finance Minister O. Pannerselvam, Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi and other officials. But she did not make any announcement about her protest in the hall.
Immediately after that she left for Chennai.