CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa doesn’t like to take anything lying down. And she has always given the Centre a taste of it by opposing every Bill, policy statement, or notification that has been thrusted upon the state. In the process, she has emerged as a strong opposition against the Centre and the entire anti-UPA bloc of chief ministers is today rallying around her to protect the autonomy of the states.
Jayalalithaa was the cynosure of all eyes at the recent annual internal security conference of all chief ministers held in Delhi. Initially, the agenda for the conference included formation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), but it was on Jayalalithaa’s insistence that the Centre decided to hold a separate meeting on the issue on May 5.
The chief minister lambasted the Centre for not keeping the state governments in the loop in matters related to the states. She cautioned the Centre from treating the state governments like municipal corporations. She cited how the Tamil Nadu Government was “taken by surprise’’ by the Indo-US joint naval exercise with nuclear warheads in their own backyard, in the Bay of Bengal off the Tamil Nadu coast. When the chief minister tried to gain information, it was plainly stonewalled.
Jayalalithaa also condemned the continued reduction of Central funds for modernisation of the police force in Tamil Nadu and pointed out that “without the support of strong state governments (financially and administratively) there can never be a victory in the fight against terrorism.”
Jayalalithaa has already expressed her displeasure on the NCTC issue through her letters to the Prime Minister. She said that the move smacked of a tendency to abrogate the powers of the state. In her last letter to the Prime Minister, she said, “It is indeed unfortunate that without taking into consideration the views and sentiments of various state chief ministers, the constitution of NCTC is sought to be steamrolled into existence.”
Whether it is the Indo-US naval exercise or the setting up of the NCTC, Jayalalithaa finds the Centre’s propensity of not bothering to keep the State government in the loop “unacceptable”. She turned the tables on the centre when she said, “Lack of consultations with the states and failure to take them into confidence is a cogent commentary on the system of the government in the Centre.”
Ever since Jayalalithaa returned to power, she has sent several epistles to the Prime Minister voicing her concern about many plans and policies of the Centre affecting the state. Recently, before the chief ministers’ meet in Delhi she charged the Centre for causing huge revenue losses to states, including Tamil Nadu, by taking unilateral and unreasonable decisions with regard to Central Sales Tax. Jayalalithaa has also vehemently opposed the National Commission for Human Resources for Health Bill as it is being viewed as another attempt by the Centre to unsurp the powers of the state.