Hyderabad: Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) on Saturday said that NITI Aayog is only a namesake organisation that does not serve any purpose. He declared that in a mark of strong protest, he will be boycotting the annual NITI Aayog meeting on Sunday.
“Prime Minister Modi brought NITI Aayog. In a meeting with all chief ministers, he announced the replacement of the Planning Commission of India with the NITI Aayog. He promised cooperative federalism. I was happy when I heard him refer to the chief ministers as ‘team India’. But unfortunately, NITI Aayog is only a namesake organisation now.”
The chief minister said this at a press conference held at Pragathi Bhavan on Saturday. On the same day, the chief minister also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister about the reasons for his boycott.
During the press conference, KCR said, “In 8 years of NITI Aayog, has there been any change in the country? It is all a big joke. In the country, hate and intolerance are growing. Never before in history have farmers protested for 13 months. It took the Prime Minister 13 months to publicly apologise and repeal the farm laws. He could have done the same in 13 days.”
The Telangana chief minister charged that no promise has been fulfilled by the ruling party. “Even in the nation’s capital, people are buying water tankers. There are no jobs or electricity. Unemployment is at an all-time high at 8.1%. The state of the rupee is a disgrace. What has the NITI Aayog achieved by replacing the planning commission?” he asked.
“At the meeting, I have to speak for 4 minutes and sit for 4 hours eating dry fruits. It is better to not attend it at all. The Prime Minister might be angry but is my right to protest in a democracy,” he remarked.
“NITI Aayog came to Telangana, appreciated the programs, and themselves said that Rs 24000 crores had to be allocated to the state by the central government to develop Missions Kakatiya and Bagiratha. It’s been 4-5 years since then, and no money has been sanctioned. Is it not an insult to the organisation?” asked KCR.
Instead of the promised cooperative federalism, there is an imposed dictatorship in the country today, said KCR. “Chief ministers are breaking down houses with bulldozers, MPs are talking about encounters. Is this the message government wants to convey? India is losing its reputation in the world,” he said.
He said that it was a waste of time to attend a NITI Aayog meeting because participants are allowed only 3 minutes to talk. “The planning commission used to discuss, form policies and decide on matters in meetings that went on for many days,” he compared.
KCR complained that the centre’s decisions are trampling the state’s progress. “Don’t curtail the progress of performing states. Incentivise them. Development of an inch of the country is the development of the nation.”
He brought up the issue of the central government allegedly not sanctioning any money to the state. “In the last financial year, the state government spent approximately Rs 1,90,000 crores. Through centrally sponsored schemes, not even 5000 crores were sanctioned to Telangana.”
He charged the central government of creating people like current Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde towards their goal of becoming the only party in the country. “Is this co-operative federalism?” he asked.
Responding to the BJP’s accusations that the state government gives out ‘freebies’ in the name of schemes that are not financially feasible, KCR asked if it is called a freebie to introduce financial support to farmers under Rythu Bandhu. “How can you include loans taken by the PSUs as state government loans? If that is the case, I demand the Centre to define what an NPA is.”
He said that in 2004-5 there were NPAs of 58,000 crores but today, there were NPAs of Rs 20,07,000 crores. “It is a big scam now. I demand that the centre explain this huge number,” said KCR.
“We have given pensions to 36 lakh people already, and are going to do so for another 10 lakh people. We are declaring orphan children as ‘state children.’ The children will be taken care of and educated. Are these also freebies?” asked KCR.
He implored the government to “remove the useless GST on handlooms, dairy projects and save daily-wage labourers.”