NEW DELHI: Similar to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s strong objection to the Union government’s propensity to keep the States in the dark on foreign policy issues even when such decisions could impact the lives of the people living in the border States, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee objected to the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement with Bangladesh.
A senior policy expert, close to the earlier Congress dispensations, said, “This is not how it used to be.”
Rajiv Gandhi made it a point to quietly take the AIADMK founder and then ailing chief minister M G Ramachandran into confidence before sending the IPKF to Sri Lanka. “This government lives a blinkered life and lurches from one crisis to another. There’s no political input or sense in its moves,” the expert added.
That may have to change now as Jayalalithaa made it clear to the Centre that the States, Tamil Nadu in particular, have to be taken into confidence during the process of decision-making and not as an after-thought. Any attempt to subvert that process will be fiercely resisted.
Whether it is the Indo-US naval exercise or the setting up of the NCTC, she said she finds the Centre’s propensity of not bothering to keep the State government in the loop “unacceptable”.
Neither Jayalalithaa nor her counterparts in the other non-Congress States were ready to accept the Centre’s attempt to abrogate the federal structure of the polity as defined in the Constitution. The State government cannot be treated as a “municipal corporation’’ which can only be recipients of dole, not party to any decision-making process, she said.
Fearing that this is an emerging pattern and making clear that there was a trust deficit, Jayalalithaa said, “Lack of consultations with the States and failure to take the States into confidence is a cogent commentary on the system of the government in the Centre.”