Centre talks of cooperative federalism but practices camouflaged centralism: Abhishek Banerjee

Trinamool MP from Diamond Harbour constituency, Abhishek Banerjee, who is also the President of Trinamool Youth Congress, today slammed the Centre during a discussion on the supplementary demands for grants.

Taking a dig at the central government, he said while they talk about cooperative federalism, they practice camouflaged centralism. He also slammed them for being busy in headline management, so much so that there was total mismanagement.

He also said that anger was rising against the current government and there was no achhe din in sight for the jawans in Kashmir or the farmers in Kanyakumari.

Highlights of his speech:

 On massive victory for Trinamool in Bengal

 I rise here today with pride and dignity, with my head held high representing my state and its people who chose truth over lies & hype. Two months ago, the people of my State had three choices.

One, an ideology-less / unethical / venomous alliance.

Two, a party that runs on media hype & encourages religious fundamentalism.

And three, the Trinamool Congress, which worked for development, peace, prosperity and communal harmony. The choices were clear. And the people spoke Loudly. Clearly.

Silence on Dalits and Kashmir

Now let us look at the promises made by the Central Government. A Government that speaks about ‘cooperative federalism’.A Government that talks about strengthening the Centre-State relationship.A Government that tweets on every subject, but remains silent and mum when Dalits are killed and young minds in Kashmir are pained.

This Government often speaks about ‘competitive federalism’. About States competing with each other to perform better. But in the past two years, cooperative federalism has merely been a slogan. An empty slogan, not the reality.

Camouflaged Centralism

The CM of West Bengal wrote to the PM in April-May 2015 detailing the ways in which the Centre was short-changing the States. There has been no positive response.

From this Government’s record, it is clear that there is no cooperative federalism. There is no competitive federalism. Madam/Sir, indeed no cooperative federalism…what we have, is what I call… CAMOUFLAGED CENTRALISM. Yes, camouflaged centralism.

There has been talk of fiscal transfers to the States. But the reality is different. Allocations for 39 major schemes have been withdrawn and 58 key welfare schemes have been scaled down. Also, 8 programmes that had Central funding have been cut.

West Bengal is being weighed down by a massive debt of more than Rs. 3 lakh crore left behind by the previous dispensation. Other States like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh also have debt in excess of Rs. 2 lakh crores. Has there been any waiver? Has there been any support? Has there been any debt relief? Has the Central Government taken any initiative to reduce the debt burden or truncate the same???

Is this cooperative federalism?  NO!

The Planning Commission has been abolished and the States have lost an important platform to raise matters. You call an Inter-State meeting of Chief Ministers but decide the agenda without consulting anyone. You give Chief Ministers time to speak based on the colour of their party flag.

Bengal’s performance

  1. Inflation

In the Supplementary Demand for Grants, Rs. 40,000 crore has been allocated as Ways and Means Advance to the Food Corporation of India. Given the inflation situation in the country and the crucial role of the Public Distribution System for the common man, it is not clear why this allocation was not made during the Budget Session and is coming up at this stage.

Bengal has the lowest inflation rate in the country, less than 3%, according to the latest Economic Survey published by the Central government. The inflation rate for the entire country is 5.7%. From day one of this Monsoon Session, my colleagues from Trinamool have been strongly raising this issue of price rise both inside and outside Parliament.

  1. Let’s take MGNREGA

The BJP has always criticised MGNREGA as a failure and have ridiculed it as a scheme for ‘digging holes’. This is reflected in the scheme’s overall performance. The average days of employment per household has been dismal, below 50 days per year. Last year, it was only 34.84 days per year. In Bengal the story is different. MGNREGA aims to provide at least 100 days of wage employment per year. 85 lakh person-days of work has been generated and we have spent Rs. 18,000 crores towards the scheme in the past years. Again, the best in the country.

This Demand for Grants adds Rs. 5000 crore to the MGNREGA fund. This is a good step but again, it is not clear why such an important allocation is appearing as a Supplementary Demand for Grants.

  1. As for financial growth, the Gross Value Added Growth of Bengal is at a 12.02% high while India is at 7.3%.
  1. One example from social and rural development.

The Centre’s budget for BetiBachaoBetiPadhao, a scheme that was modelled and repackaged on West Bengal’s Kanyashree scheme, is a mere Rs. 75 crores. I wonder how much of it went into newspaper ads and social media campaigns. What is the budget for the Kanyashree scheme in West Bengal today? More than Rs. 1000 crores.Almost 10 times more than the Centre for just one State. That’s Bengal for you!

  1. Minority development.

Madam/Sir, let the facts and figures speak for itself. Let’s look at the numbers. The Budget increased four times in five years in Bengal. And what have the Centre done? Can’t even run a portal to distribute minority scholarships. But then do they care about minorities? Do they care about the oppressed? Do they care about the farmer? Do they really care?

State of West Bengal still has a GDP that doubled from Rs. 4.61 lakh crore in 2010-11 to Rs. 9.20 lakh crore in 2015-16.

Total mismanagement

This is a Central Government who believes they are an event management agency. They create big ads with big promises. Write catchy slogans. Make lots of noise. Try and do headline management. But the result is total mismanagement.

Changing lives of people

When you want to change the lives of people, how do you do it?

  • You change lives by setting up fair price shops selling medicines with up to 70% discount
  • You change lives by giving proper shelter and houses free of cost to economically weaker section of people under the GEETANJALI scheme.
  • You change lives by making districts across the State “Open Defecation Free”
  • You change lives by electrifying households under the SabarGhareAlo scheme
  • You change lives by giving 45 lakh SabujSathi cycles to girls and boys, so a 50-minute walk to their school becomes a 5-minute ride.

Anger rising against the government

As for the BJP-led NDA government, all you have given the country so far are Achhe Slogans, Achhe ads, Achhe tweets. Achhe Sapne aur Achhe Jumley. 25 mahina baad ek asha aur umeed ki kiran le kar jo achhe din ke sapne dekhe the…Woh har hindustani aaj jaanna chahta hai yeh achhe din kab ayenge? Kashmir mein border par khada hua jawan yah Kanyakumari mein rah dekh raha Kisaan kisike bhi achhe din nahi aye… Sir, baatein bahut huyi lekin desh ki zamini haqeeqat mein koi badlav nahi aya.



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