A federalism issue, a political necessity – Deccan Herald

Posted: February 17, 2022 at 7:51 am

A federalism issue, a political necessity

A proposal made by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to hold a convention of non-BJP Chief Ministers in Delhi has received much attention. Both Chief Ministers are pushing the proposal and trying to bring their counterparts from other states on a common platform. There are other CMs, too, moving on the same lines. Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao has been in touch with his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray and leaders of some non-BJP parties across the country. He is known to support a federal front of state parties and governments, and has recently become more critical of the central government and its policies. The initiative being taken by these Chief Ministers has to be seen at two levels. One is as a pushback against the central government, which is increasingly domineering over the states, and the other is as an attempt to put together a plan to counter the BJP politically.

Centre-state relations have been deteriorating steadily and the pressure on state governments has increased recently. There are several issues that have caused these tensions and fissures. The differences over the GST have continued and widened. Non-BJP states have complained that they are discriminated against. The partisan conduct of central agencies and the interventionist actions of Governors are other issues. The move to make arbitrary changes in the cadre rules of central service officers is the latest issue of discord. There have been complaints about financial and developmental matters. The states have felt that the BJPs idea of the country as a unitary state rather than as a union of states has influenced its policies toward states. They do not want their rights and powers to be curtailed and taken away by the Centre. The states have to defend themselves against an overbearing Centre now. The Chief Ministers move to make common cause has to be seen from that perspective. It is a move for self-preservation and strengthening of the federal system, which is a basic feature of the Constitution.Such initiatives become necessary and arise whenever the Centre becomes overbearing towards the states.

The political dimension of the move needs more clarity and is yet to develop. It may be considered as a rudimentary form of a political alliance against the BJP with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in the sights of its movers. But the results of the Assembly elections in five states will have an important bearing on the plans. The roles of the Congress and some other non-BJP parties like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) are still not clear. There is also the issue of leadership. So, the federal front as an electoral plan is still a faraway idea.

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A federalism issue, a political necessity - Deccan Herald

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