If states are afraid of the Centre, we’ll move towards one nation-one-political party, warns Mamata Banerjee

At a meeting called by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, chief ministers of Opposition political parties decided to put up a fight against the Centre’s various policies, and decided on a possible Supreme Court move to request postponement of JEE and NEET examinations. The Centre has scheduled the examinations in the first two weeks of September, and there is demand from various sections across the country on postponing them in the current pandemic and flood situations.

The meeting, held on videoconference involved discussions on the Central government “depriving” states of funds that are due to the latter and privatisation of various public sector undertakings. Larger issues like the Centre’s “bullying” of states and “bulldozing” states’ policies and independence, the country’s federal structure of governance, were discussed as well. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, chief ministers of West Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Punjab, were among those present.

After the meeting, at a press conference, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee raised the issue again and asked, “Should the states be afraid of the Centre? If questions are raised, some officers and political leaders are being threatened with action. Should we then not raise our voices? Should states lose their independence in the federal structure in democracy? If that happens, it will soon be a situation of one-nation, one political party”.

During the meeting, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray raised the same concerns. “We have to decide whether we want to fear or fight the government. The people who have elected the BJP at the Centre have also elected all of us. But if we do something, it is paap (sin) and if they do something it is punya (virtuous)?” he said.

Banerjee said she was not afraid and was ready to go to jail, and highlighted the need to fight the Centre’s policies. At the press conference she said that if democracy is to be preserved in the country, the institutions of democracy must be preserved. She said that many states were not getting funds from the Centre on GST. “We are supposed to get Rs 431 crore under GST and another Rs 43,000 crore under various schemes. Moreover, despite the Amphan cyclone, the Centre has given only an advance payment of Rs 1,000 crore and nothing beyond that. How will the states run? Where will funds come from if the Centre does not release funds?” she asked.

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