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Nothing short of betrayal
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New Delhi: Two days after the fiery Congress Working Committee meeting, the grand old party got into a fighting mode and wants to take on the Union government on issues like privatisation of the Railways, GST compensation to states and the decision of the Centre on conducting JEE and NEET examinations.
It also recognised the need for a joint fight with other parties to take on the NDA government. As a first step, the AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi held a video conference, in which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, all four Congress CMs - Amarinder Singh from Punjab, Ashok Gehlot from Rajasthan, Bhupesh Baghel in Chattisgarh and V Narayanasamy in Puducherry participated.
Sonia Gandhi found fault with the Centre for its "refusal" to pay GST compensation to the states and said that it was betrayal of trust of the people of India. She said GST was enacted as an example of "cooperative federalism" after the states agreed to forego their constitutional powers of taxation in the larger national interest and on the solemn promise of compulsory GST compensation for a period of five years.
Paying GST compensation on time to states was crucial but it was not happening. The states were suffering while the Centre continues to profiteer from unilateral cesses.
She also said that some announcements by the government like the National Education Policy should worry all of them. "This is a setback for progressive, secular and scientific values and reveals insensitivity to what the states have been saying," she said.
This meeting assumed importance as it was held a day ahead of the GST council meeting on Thursday and the monsoon session of Parliament, which would begin on September 14. The Congress chief emphasised on the need for a coordinated approach among like-minded parties on issues that impinge on the Centre-state relations.
All the Chief Ministers opposed conducting JEE and NEET examinations in view of corona pandemic and decided to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and submit a memorandum urging the Centre to reconsider its decision. In case if the government does not respond favourably, they will move the Supreme Court. Sonia felt that problems of students and examinations were being dealt uncaringly.
She took objection to ordinances being issued by the Centre without consulting states on agricultural marketing and said this will destroy the MSP regime and would impact the PDS. "There has been a nationwide outcry against the Draft EIA Notification 2020 which is anti-democratic. Laws meant to protect the environment, livelihoods and public health are being weakened," she said.
Strongly opposing selling off public sector assets like the Railways, the life-line of the country to private sector, she said that more such meetings should be held in the larger interest of the country.