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Punjab CM calls for strong federalism, secularism and peace

PTI | Last Updated: Sunday, January 26, 2014 - 23:50

Ludhiana: Accusing the Centre of encroaching upon the rights of states, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday called for recasting the Constitution to ensure implementation of federalism in the right spirit.

Expressing his concerns that the extension of special
industrial package to neighbouring hilly states might affect
investment sentiments in the state, Badal pitched for similar
concessions for Punjab.
Addressing a gathering after unfurling the national flag
at Guru Nanak Stadium here on the occasion of 65th Republic
Day, the Chief Minister said with the passage of time the
Centre had gradually been encroaching upon the rights of
states as enshrined in the Constitution`s State List, like
agriculture, health and education, thereby drifting away from
the basic essence of federalism.

"It is pitiable condition of the states which are merely
relegated to the position of subordinates to discharge trivial
functions for instance transferring a district agriculture
officer from Ludhiana to Jalandhar and vice versa, whereas it
has no control over significant issues related to the welfare
of farmers such as fixation of the rates of agriculture inputs
and the corresponding MSP of the crops," he said.
Badal bemoaned that the "very soul and spirit of the
Constitution as infused by its architect B R Ambedkar" had
been taken out deliberately "to weaken the states" on one
hand, and "dilute its federal character" on the other.

He asked policy makers to shun the decade-long practice
of "arbitrarily" doling out grants to its favourites at the
cost of other states like Punjab.

"It is the high time now to awake from deep slumber to
sanction central grants liberally without any riders thereby
respecting the very sanctity of Indian Constitution," he said.

Badal alleged that the Centre had failed on all fronts in
terms of safeguarding the nation`s integrity from internal as
well as external aggression, and added it was unable to uphold
the ethos of secularism, communal harmony and amity.

He lauded the Punjabis for maintaining peace, communal
harmony and brotherhood in the state, despite stiff
provocation from its hostile neighbour, Pakistan.

First Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014 - 23:50
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