Centre rubs Gujarat the wrong way again
By Cithara Paul - NEW DELHI
Published: 22nd Jul 2012 10:46:55 AM
That there is no love lost between the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat and the Centre is there for everyone to see. As the Assembly elections approach, the friction between the two has escalated to such a level that even a proposed visit by a Union Minister to the state has turned into a hot potato.
Gujarat has objected to the proposed visit of Minister of State (Independent Charge) at the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) Shrikant Jena to personally review social schemes implemented in the state. That the Centre has singled out Gujarat to scrutinise the performance of Centrally sponsored schemes in the state has not gone down well with the state, especially as it is comes immediately after the high profile visit of the Group of Ministers on Media led by Home Minister P Chidambaram to the state.
MoSPI Minister Jena had proposed visiting the state on July 9-10 to personally review the schemes, and sent a proposal to this effect to the state government in writing. The Modi government straightaway opposed the proposed visit, both telephonically and in writing, and questioned it on various grounds.
The Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Administration and Planning) V N Maira has written a detailed letter to Special Secretary MOSPI Pradeep Jain, questioning the visit of the Union minister.
Stating that the review of the social schemes under Centrally sponsored programmes is not done at the ministerial level, the Gujarat government has asked why a high-level Central team should visit the state when the review can be done in New Delhi at the bureaucratic level.
The letter has also pointed out that Planning Commission does the review of all Central government-supported schemes at the time of finalising the Annual Plan for the states, and that plan finalisation between the commission and the state government is already done. Now there is no point in reviewing the 20-point programme separately, says the letter sent by Gujarat to MoSPI.
Questioning the rationale of the visit of Central team to Gujarat, the letter also states that the state government has other pressing engagements and cannot spare time for the Central team.
When contacted, Maira told The Sunday Standard that the Gujarat Government is in the process of collecting information that the Centre has asked. “Their format is totally different from the format we have been following. So it will take quite a time before we can furnish all the details that the Centre has sought,” said Maira.
When asked about the Gujarat’s objection to the proposed visit of the Minister, Maira said that Gujarat has no objection. “Why should we object? Instead it is the Union ministries which should have objected, as the MoSPI is interfering with their programmes. The MoSPI is reviewing the programmes like Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan which come under other ministries for that matter. Other ministries should have objected to it as it comes under their terrain,” Maira said.
The Union Government, for obvious reasons, has not taken the response from Gujarat lightly. “Though the minister has deferred the visit to Gujarat for the time being, he has told the MOSPI officials to seek a fresh date for the review from the state government,’’ said a source close to the government.
It is learnt that the MoSPI officials have once again send the request to the state government but is yet to get any reply from the Modi government.