New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi today cautioned against "haste" in restructuring Planning Commission and voiced anguish over the manner in which the meeting was called as if states have "merely to put their stamp" on the Centre's agenda.
He demanded that a meeting of the National Development Council be called to consult the states meaningfully and take a holistic view on the issue and noted as a think tank, the proposed institution should have the capabilities to support the ministries and states with knowledge of innovations and best practices of the world.
Manjhi, who heads a Janta Dal-United government in the state supported by Congress and RJD, said, "The manner in which this meeting has been convened, its agenda and format, is pointing to the fact that you have already made up your mind on the subject and the states are here, merely to put their stamp on it".
Participating in the meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chief Ministers on the issue of renaming and restructuring the plan panel, he said that the speech of the Prime Minister on Independence Day about re-thinking on the Planning Commission has given rise to the public perception that the government has decided to give a "go-bye to the process of planning" in this country and that the growth and development in this country will be led by the market forces and the capitalists.
"I would request the Prime Minister to take no decision in haste without due diligence and deliberation. The meeting of the National Development Council should be convened to discuss the matter and take a holistic view on the same.
"If states are to be consulted meaningfully then the proposed structure and modalities should be duly circulated for firming up of their view on the matter. Final view should be taken after considering the observations of all stakeholders," Manjhi said .
He said that though the Prime Minister has talked about strengthening the federal structure and increased, active participation of the states in the formulation of national policies as equal partners and in their effective implementation, nothing substantial has been done to confirm these views.
"I am of the view that to deliberate on this important issue, the appropriate forum would have been the National Development Council.
"Furthermore it would have been more fruitful and productive if the alternative structure and?modalities that are being proposed could have been circulated beforehand to the states, so that they could have firmed up their views on the issue," he added.
The Bihar Chief Minister said that there is no doubt about the fact that India in 21st century is not the country of 1950s and the forces that determine and drive the growth and development across the Globe are also not the same.
"The state government believes that over the years the Planning Commission has played an important role in the assessment of the material, capital and human resources of the country and formulate Plans for the its most effective and balanced utilisation.
"However it has not been able to fulfil its mandate completely, particularly with respect to reducing inter-regional disparities, providing basic amenities to the vast masses and fostering human development.
"But we still believe that the timing and relevance of restructuring the Planning Commission at this juncture is not appropriate as we are in midst of the 12th Plan period and all of our developmental strategy are committed to this five-year Plan.
"Any substantial change now in our Planning strategy will create confusion and dysfunctionality in our developmental programmes and ongoing projects," Manjhi said.
Noting that the last few decades have seen increasing role of the market and the private sector in the growth of the economies, across the globe, he said that there in increasing evidence and realisation, however, that unless the state intervenes effectively, the growth process may lead to increasing disparities across regions and peoples and the growth process may not be sustainable in the medium and long run.
"The Indian nation and economy is complex and diverse, where states and regions form a spectrum of development in all spheres, so much so that in many ways it resembles many worlds within one nation.
"In such a scenario, there is a greater need for effective intervention of the government in regulating and supplementing the market forces.
"In a federal set up, this has to be suitably designed to focus on national aspirations as well as to promote mainstreaming and inclusion of the vast sections of marginalised and the poor across regions and communities. Thus Planning cannot be given a go-bye completely," the Bihar Chief Minister said.
He said that as a think tank, the proposed institution should also have the capabilities to support the ministries and states with the knowledge of innovations and best practices of the world.
The Chief Minister in his speech also talked about the experience of Bihar in development initiatives, its demand for special state status and the bifurcation woes it had suffer after Jharkhand was carved out it in 2000.