CPI-M wants more powers to states, review of federalism

March 30th, 2008 - 10:20 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Coimbatore, March 30 (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Sunday warned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government of a nationwide mass struggle for a radical restructuring of the “federal concept” and urgent measures to contain the rising inflation. The CPI-M announced it would launch a mass agitation against the price rise by April 15.

Pointing out that there has been a deterioration in the centre-state relations in all spheres, the CPI-M, which is holding its once-in-three years party congress here from Saturday, wanted the government to review the revenue share system in the federal structure.

“There has to be a serious re-look into the federal concept,” CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury told reporters.

On Sunday, the first day of deliberations, the party congress passed a resolution - introduced by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and seconded by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac - asking the central government to review the centre-state relations.

The CPI-M pointed out that while the states have been taking care of major responsibilities in the developmental and administrative spheres, the centre has retained important powers of revenue raising.

“The states have been demanding for increasing the share of central taxes to the states to at least 50 percent. The share is 30.5 percent now,” the resolution said.

According to the CPI-M, the shrinking revenue has been forcing the states to look for alternative sources of resources like the World Bank.

The dominant Left party, which along with other Left parties supports the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from outside, also said there have been no safeguards against the abuse of Article 356, which gives the central government the power to dismiss a state government.

The CPI-M wanted the central government to take the chief minister’s consent for the appointment of a governor.

“The governor should be appointed from a list of three eminent persons suggested by the chief minister satisfying the criteria (as) mentioned by the Sarkaria Commission (that studied the centre-state relations) has gone totally unheeded,” the resolution said.

The CPI-M last year faced embarrassment when West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi criticized the party-led government for its role in the violent clashes in Nandigram, where police firing had killed 14 people who were agitating against land acquisition for industry.

Criticising the UPA government for its “failure” in containing the price rise, the CPI-M alleged it was not interested in revising the decisions taken by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

“The CPI-M wants the government to strengthen the public distribution system by restoring the cut in the food grain allocation to the states, ban future trading in 25 agricultural commodities, revise the tariff duties on oil imports and take stringent action against the hoarding of essential commodities,” Yechury said.

The annual inflation rate in the wholesale price index touched 6.68 in the second week of March.

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