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The balancing act

Strong state leaders like J Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee or Naveen Patnaik would not feel quite comfortable with a strong leader like Narendra Modi heading the Central government. They have been able to throw invectives and demand special terms from a weak Central government. The meetings of the National Development Council were not taken too seriously. Several chief ministers were hyper critical of the Centre at these meetings presided by the prime minister. Jayalalithaa even walked out of one of these accusing the PM for allotting insufficient time for her to speak. In his election addresses Modi has been stressing the importance of empowering the states.

    As the chief minister of Gujarat for three successive terms, Modi has also been a strong critic of the several measures of the Centre. But if his role is reversed and he assumes charge as prime minister, he has to deal with the pulls and pressures of powerful state chief ministers demanding special privileges for their respective states. Bihar, Punjab, West Bengal, among others, have been making such heavy demands for special allotments. But there is slow growth in the revenues of the Centre and with massive public debt, there will be limited scope for massive devolution of funds from the Centre to the states. Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh silently suffered the aggressive stance of the several state chieftains. Hopefully the new incumbent will not be constrained by the compulsions of a weak coalition government.

 

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