PUDUCHERRY: Even as Chief Minister V Narayanasamy leading a delegation of MLAs has intensified his efforts in Delhi to get statehood for the Union Territory of Puducherry and has mobilised political support from a vast chunk of major parties, the lack of a financial viability report to show that the UT has achieved self-sufficiency in finance could be an impediment to the prospect of achieving statehoodThe CM’s memorandum contains a proposal prepared by a secretary to the government, which he has been submitted to all concerned.
Former Lok Sabha member and an economist M Ramadass, who published a comprehensive book on statehood a few years ago, says that the economy of UT has improved in the last few years and statehood is a viable option. The Gross State Domestic product (GSDP) outshines the national economy. The growth rate of the UT’s GSDP in 2017-2018 was 11.4%, whereas the GDP growth rate of the Union government was 7% only. The per capita income of the UT is `1.95, which is one of the highest in the country. The present impediments and handicap are due to the fact that Puducherry still continues as UT. To remove these obstacles, statehood is essential, he says.
Lack of sound proposal
However, the absence of a sound statehood proposal with facts and figures under the present conditions could pose problems, said Ramadass. The CM has gone to Delhi in a hurry without preparing such a document for the statehood proposal to be processed by the Central government.
On earlier occasions, the then CMs, V Vaithilingam, R V Janakiraman and N Rangasamy had approached the Union government with a sound proposal based on a report on the merits, demerits and various aspects of statehood, prepared by a special committee. Meeting people without a viability report is unlikely to serve any purpose, he said.The exercise should have been under taken by the government instead of submitting a memorandum prepared by a secretary to the government.
The Chief Minister, however, disagrees, saying that when Puducherry’s contribution to revenue was 60 per cent, there could be no doubt about the viability of being stated. Under the GST, Puducherry is recognised as a state. Moreover, it does not get recommendation for grants, as Puducherry is not under the ambit of the Central Finance Commission.
On the positive side, unlike in the past when government employees were opposed to statehood, now, for the first time, the Confederation of Government Employees Association, representing a majority of the government employees, has come out in support of Statehood. As in many states, Puducherry too can continue to provide Central pay-scales, said CH Balamohanan, honorary president of the confederation, adding that financial issues would get settled, once Puducherry became a state.
On the other hand, P Lakshmanasamy, general secretary, Puducherry State Government Central Federation, representing some of the employees, is opposed to statehood on the grounds that employees of quasi-government organisations are not being paid salaries due to financial crunch
Politically almost all parties including the ruling Congress, its ally DMK, opposition parties AINRC and AIADMK, and Left parties have expressed their support for statehood. Even the BJP, which did not want to clarify its stand, however, has not opposed statehood either. BJP state president V Saminathan said that they were in favour of what is good for Puducherry and would abide by the decision of the BJP leadership. Even the MLAs of the Congress, AINRC, AIADMK and DMK from Karaikal region have supported the demand for statehood.
The only opposition to statehood seems to have come from the two MLAs of the outlying regions of Mahe and Yanam, who have not joined the delegation led by the CM. Despite the statehood proposal submitted by the CM, including all four regions of the UT, the Mahe and Yanam MLAs do not favour statehood as it will lead to the merger of the two regions.
However, there is a perception that the government is not serious about statehood. It is just to hide the deficiencies and justify the reason for cutting short the budget session, the government is pitching for statehood. There was no tearing hurry to close the session and rush to Delhi as the delegation could have gone after July 27, after making a sound statehood proposal.
When the Prime Minister is out of the country, what is the necessary to take the tour, asked Ramadass. This has been the view of several others who did not want to come on record. The timing is also not proper, said Ragasamy, despite supporting statehood resolution in the Assembly.
In the past, statehood issue has been raised when the governments at the Centre and in the UT were led by different parties or when the Lt Governor acted tough. But the issue got shelved, once the governments belonged to the same political party were formed at the Centre and in the UT.Now, with Lok Sabha elections due in 2019, people are wondering whether this proposal would meet the same fate.
2 The only opposition to statehood seems to have come from the two MLAs of Mahe and Yanam