In a terse letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — with charges of ignoring states’ rights, besides jibes over price-rise, bulldozers and communal statements — Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (or ‘KCR’) today said he will not attend the August 7 meeting of Niti Aayog’s governing council “as a mark of strong protest”. PM is the chairperson of the government’s policy thinktank.
This is the latest in a series of attacks by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) boss on the BJP and the central government. Other regional parties — such as Tamil Nadu’s DMK and Bengal’s Trinamool Congress — have been making similar, though they haven’t boycotted the meeting.
KCR says the Aayog was started “with the lofty objective of bringing the states on the same page with the Centre”. “Because of no planning and no spirit of cooperative federalism, the country is passing through a most difficult phase with unprecedented problems of falling rupee value, high inflation, skyrocketing prices and increasing unemployment, coupled with low economic growth,” he writes.
He describes Telangana as one of the “trailblazing states” and says there is blatant discrimination against such states.
At a press conference, he pressed on this: “Don’t curtail the progress of the progressing states. Development of any inch of the country is the development of the nation.”
— YSR (@ysathishreddy) August 6, 2022
In the letter, he upfront reminds PM Modi of a key recommendation by the group of CMs in the Niti Aayog — that states be given flexibility to design or modify central schemes. “Not all schemes contemplated, designed and finalized by the mandarins of Delhi, serve their intended purpose, considering the vast diversity and different needs of states.”
About Telangana specifically, he cites recommendations from “way back in 2016” — to give funds for irrigation and drinking-water schemes — that haven’t been followed. “These examples are sufficient to say that the institution of Niti Aayog is rendered useless.”
He also slams the central government for no action on the “irresponsible utterances of some leaders in high positions on use of bulldozers, encounter killings, 80:20 ratios and references with religious undertones… (that) are disrupting the communal harmony and the social fabric of the nation, besides inviting international criticism”.
He cites “the one-sided decision to bring the new farm laws” — which were repelled after a year-long protest by farmers — to say that federalism “is deliberately disregarded”.
“I do not find it useful to attend (the meeting)… and I am staying away from it as a mark of strong protest against the present trend of central government to discriminate against the states and not treating them as equal partners in our collective effort to make India a strong and developed country,” he signs off.