The second conclave of the Finance Ministers of southern states began at Amaravati the capital city of Andhra Pradesh amid the conspicuous absence of Telangana, Tamil Nadu and other states on Monday.
Karnataka, which is going for polls, is represented by Finance secretary. Mizoram, Meghalaya, Odisha, and Sikkim have also failed to turn up. Telangana and Tamil Nadu had skipped the first meeting itself held at Thiruvananthapuram. Subsequently, the conclave was expanded to an All India Finance Ministers meeting and many other states were invited. The conclave will discuss the controversial Terms of Reference (ToR) of the 15th Finance Commission and finalise a memorandum to be submitted to the President of India.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) fight on state-centre relations resulted in constitution of Sarkaria Commission. The 1971 population census was taken as basis for devolution of funds following AP’s suggestion to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
If the 2011 census were considered, the representation of the South in parliament would go down drastically as population would be criterion for delimitation. The ToR would amount to penalising the performing and progressive states. Underdeveloped states need helping hand but not at the cost of progressive states. It would lead to “huge heartburn,” Naidu observed.
Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister, Yanamala Ramakrishnudu expressed hope that the common memorandum would act as starting point for fresh thinking with regard to devolution in recognition of the growing reality of States being more than equal partners in development of the country. A new paradigm for devolution must be established in the spirit of partnership between Centre and States, and not based on dominance of the former over the latter, Ramakrishunudu said. (NSS)