Centre's interference weakening states: Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: In the midst of his government's turf war with the Centre, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday demanded complete decentralisation to strengthen India's federalism and alleged Modi dispensation was interfering in functioning of states as well as 'undermining' the judiciary.

Addressing a Chief Ministers' conclave organised by his government on 'cooperative federalism', Kejriwal accused the NDA regime of doing politics in allocation of funds and 'arm-twisting' the states by using agencies like CBI which he said was weakening the Centre-State relations.

The Delhi Chief Minister alleged that Lt Governor Najeeb Jung was acting like 'an agent' of the Centre by declaring 30 AAP government orders 'null and void' which he said was unprecedented in the country's history.

Kejriwal, in presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, contended that only judiciary has the authority to declare the government orders illegal if they go against the Constitution and wondered what was the need of courts in such a scenario.

"Centre and the LG are not only impinging on powers of the state governments. They are also taking away the powers of the judiciary. They are saying we will declare orders null and void and not the judiciary. It seems we do not need judges in Delhi any more," he said.

The Delhi Government had invited all the Chief Ministers including those from BJP and Congress ruled states to the conference. But only Banerjee and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar attended it while Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Mizoram's Lal Thanhawlal and Puducherry's N Rangaswamy sent letters of support.

"All of you are aware about the level of interference by the BJP-led Centre which is not only limited to Delhi as you can see it happening in states like West Bengal. In Constitution, separation of powers is clear and going against it is not right. Complete de-centralisation is a must. States will have to be given more power, rising above party politics," said Kejriwal.

Pitching for supremacy of elected governments, he also demanded a say for the state governments in appointments of Governors and Lt Governors as per recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission. The states can send a panel of three names to the Centre which can pick one from them."

Kejriwal accused the Centre of using 'three instruments' to 'interfere' in functioning of state governments -- Lt Governors or governors, central investigating agencies like CBI and finances.

Kejriwal said it was not an effort to form a third front. "We aren't trying to form a third front. We have come together on a common issue, the issue of Centre-state relations. This is just a common platform," he said.

Referring to the LG's recent order asking the Delhi bureaucrats not to obey AAP government's 'illegal' orders, Kejriwal said "it was akin to encouraging rebellion or treason among the officers".

"How to run government without police? They are using the police to target our MLAs. We have no control over land. Delhi gives Rs 1,30,000 crore to the centre annually (through taxes) and gets Rs 325 crore as share. Delhi lays golden eggs. Give it back something at least," he said.

On federalism, he said a country like India "cannot be run sitting in Delhi" and states need to be given more powers. "We are not against the Centre as the country cannot progress without the Centre's cooperation.... One cannot be strong without the other...The states will have to be strong for a strong Centre."

Kejriwal said some chief ministers could not turn up as the Delhi government had declared the September 30 date in advance before consulting them. "Next time we will do more coordination. Some resisted due to political compulsions.

Mamata Banerjee called for a similar meeting in West Bengal after the Bihar polls." He said protection of India's federal nature was of vital importance to guarantee representation of all voices.

"Agencies like CBI are being used to arm-twist the states. In case of finance, there has been politics in allocation of funds," he said, ruing disbanding of the Planning Commission which he said used to allocate a segment of financial resources to the states.

The Chief Minister wondered how the funds which used to be distributed by the Planning Commission are being allocated now. He said funds are not reaching the states while criticising the Centre for not convening meeting of the National Development Council.

The Delhi Chief Minister also appreciated Banerjee's cooperation and support in holding of the conclave.

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