New Delhi: The tenuous Centre-states relations came under more strain at the Chief Ministers' meeting on internal security in New Delhi on Monday. The Union Government faced flak from some non-Congress chief ministers for trying to step in on the domain of the state governments.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and her Gujarat counterpart led the states' charge that the Centre was bent on usurping the powers of the states and trying to weaken the federal structure. Jayalalithaa slammed the Centre and said that the government was making repeated efforts to interfere with the powers of the state governments.
"Constant attempts to reduce states to the level of glorified municipal corporation heavily dependent on the Centre for funds," Jayalalithaa said, addressing the Chief Ministers' meeting on internal security in the national capital.
Jayalalithaa also complained of reduction in police modernisation budget. "Trying to intimidate and browbeat states through top-down structure when the police is a state subject is not acceptable. All IPS officials come through the UPSC and receive identical training at the police academy whether they go to the IB, CBI or the state," teh Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said.
Speaking against the NCTC, Jayalalithaa said, "The RPF Act, the NCTC are all attempts to encroach on state powers by establishing parallel authorities."
Modi also tokk on the Centre on the issue of NCTC. "NCTC is creating distrust between the Centre and the State, which will impact internal security," Modi said.
Narendra Modi also slammed the Centre for the recent controversies with the Army. Speaking at the Chief Ministers' meet, Modi said that tensions between the civil and military wings are bound to adversely impact the internal security of the country.
"It is unfortunate that the present Union Government has failed to instill faith and confidence about our defence preparedness in the common man," he said.
Modi said the internal security of the country cannot be viewed in isolation as it is intertwined with the external security scenario and the armed forces play an important role in anti-infiltration and anti-insurgency which directly impinges on the internal security of the nation.
Sources say Jayalalithaa is also set to hold a separate meeting with three non-Congress chief ministers later on Monday. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik are expected to attend the meeting.
Sources say Patnaik is also set to hold a separate meeting with Badal and Modi.
While West Bengal Chief Minister and UPA ally Mamata Banerjee skipped the meeting, sources said that West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra will raise the issue of NCTC during the meeting on her behalf. Mitra would also demand waiving of cost of deployment of paramilitary forces in the Naxal affected districts. Mamata has also protested Centre's decision to reduce quote of rice for BPL in the state.
The Chief Ministers' conference on internal security began on Monday in Delhi. In the opening speech, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the issue of internal security remains a big challenge in which the states and the Centre must work together and in harmony. On the controversial issue of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the Prime Minister said that the issue will be discussed on May 5 separately as requested by some Chief Ministers.
"Internal security situation by and large satisfactory since February 2011. Threat from terror, left-wing extremism remains and needs constant vigil. We have to deal with them firmly. In Jammu and Kashmir, there has been perceptible improvement in security environment. Situation in north east remains complex," he said.
In his speech, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said it's a worrying trend that people jump to support terror accused because of their religion. In his inaugural speech at the chief ministers' meet in the capital, the Home Minister said that 18 terror modules have been neutralised in 2011 and 3 in 2012 but the LoC and international borders are still vulnerable.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah raised the issue of AFSPA and called for decreasing footprints of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Omar Abdullah said conciliation and dialogue will always remain the best medium for seeking a solution to all contentious issues.
(With additional information from PTI)