Bhubaneswar: The third edition of Odisha Nirman Conclave was held in Mayfair Convention Hotel here in the capital city today morning and former Minister of Finance Yashwant Sinha gave the keynote address of the day. The senior BJP leader, who quit the party in April last year, praised the State for its political stability. After being invited on the dais by Rajya Sabha Member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Sinha went on to address the need for cooperation between Centre and State.
Explaining the system of unitary versus federal constitution, he said, “When we made the constitution, India was not a federal polity like US. This affected the political scenario. There was one-party rule in the Centre and even in all the states. Slowly change came about and states started getting more rights.”
“But now, the situation has become more dangerous. In Jharkhand, Prime Minister said that a ‘Double Engine’ will benefit the people. This means that a State will benefit only if the same party have formed the State Government and the Centre Government. This is a dangerous concept. Why should a State with a different party not get any benefits? No government in the Centre should stop development in States. Odisha should not suffer just because government is different in Centre,” he explained.
“When I was the Finance Minister, Vajpayee had not put any such restrictions on States. I never felt pressurized from PM’s office and there was no interference in work. In 1998, my officers told me about VAT. I believed that Sales Tax and other taxed could be replaced by one tax so that the final tax burden would be less. I thought since it is the matter of all states, I should call a Chief Ministers meet. PM or PMO did not even ask me once why the Prime Minister was not invited to the meet. I also called on the State Finance Ministers and formed an Empowered Group. Together in a cooperative federalism system, we came up with GST,” he explained.
Sinha also went on to say that the current Central Government is manipulating statistics. He said, “Planning commission has been abolished and NITI Aayog has replaced it. When Planning Commission was being abolished, the Prime Minister said that he was going to build ‘Team India’. Where is it? Where is development? What work is it doing?”
“Finance ministry should not decide how much fund should a State get for development works. A body like Planning Commission is required for that. But that commission has now been abolished and NITI Aayog is being used to manipulate statistics. This is a dangerous development and for the first time, a government is manipulating data.”
“People sitting in Centre cannot decide what is good for people of Balasore. People here will decide that. There are 97 schemes on the name of PM. Why is he deciding what people should get?,” he said.
“There is an urgent need of democratic decentralization. There is so much power with the PM that he can press a button for nuclear war but a village ‘panch’ does not even have the power to decided on a digging of a well,” he said.
Speaking on KALIA scheme, he said, “Odisha is a backward state which is why rural and agrarian development should be the priority here. ‘KALIA’ scheme is a good initiative in the direction of ‘universal basic income’ for farmers.”
In conclusion, he said, “Cooperative federalism should make a comeback now. The current ‘new politics’ cannot make ‘new India’ even if there is a ‘Double Engine’”.
This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘KALIA’ scheme by Amar Patnaik, chairman of BJD IT cell and Saurabh Garg, Agricultural Secretary. Subroto Bagchi, chairman of Skill Development Authority also made a guest address on unemployment issues. A panel discussion was also held on development of Odisha by Sashi Bhushan Behera, Finance Minister of the State; Niranjan Patnaik, president of OPCC and Biswa Bhushan Harichandan, senior leader of BJP.