On one stage, Pinarayi, Stalin take on Centre: Destroying our federal system

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and his Kerala counterpart, Pinarayi Vijayan, on Saturday blamed the BJP-led government at the Centre for destroying India’s federal system.

Addressing a seminar on “Centre-station relations’’, held as part of the ongoing CPI(M) congress here, they alleged that unity in diversity is the nation’s culture but Hindutva forces want to do away with that and convert India into a unitary state.

Pointing out several instances in which the Centre failed to meet Kerala’s demands, Vijayan said: “What is most important is to democratise relations between the Centre and states. Instead of strengthening the federal system, the Union government is thwarting mega-projects; NITI Aayog is directly dealing with local self-governing bodies, keeping the state government in the dark.”

Under the guise of developing backward districts, the Centre is directly funding projects and monitoring them, Vijayan said. “The Centre is not ready to seek the state’s opinion when they are entering into deals, which would have far-reaching consequences in a state,” he said.

Not sparing the Congress, main opposition to the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala, Vijayan said, “The Congress does not help the state win fair share of projects and funds from the Centre. The Congress-led UDF has 18 MPs in Lok Sabha, (but) we have not seen these MPs intervening for Kerala.’’

Referring to Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah’s statement on Thursday that people from different states should speak in Hindi, and not English, Vijayan said an attempt to foist Hindi will not be allowed. “The Sangh Parivar feels if different languages are destroyed, the diversity of the nation can be eliminated. Our democracy involves diverse cultures and languages. The Constitution has given due importance to different languages. Any bid to foist Hindi would eliminate local languages and cultures,” he said.

Indirectly slamming the BJP-led NDA, Stalin said efforts are on to eliminate diversity in the country. Stating that unity in diversity is India’s culture, the DMK chief said, “If India has to be protected, states should be first guarded. The nation can be safeguarded only if states are shielded.”

Stalin said architects of the Constitution did not envisage a unitary structure of power but stood for division of powers, as reflected in features such as the state, the Centre and concurrent lists. The Panchayati Raj Act bestowed local bodies with rights, he said, and emphasised that states and the nation will witness development only if villages grow.

He said Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the CPI(M) and the DMK, have every right to speak about the Centre-state relations. “An elected Communist government in Kerala was dismissed by the Centre in 1959. In Tamil Nadu, DMK governments were dismissed twice in similar manner, first in 1976 and then in 1991, using that Constitutional provision,’’ he pointed out.

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