Modi seeks to replace Plan panel with ‘Team India’

No consensus as Cong-ruled states oppose move

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with Chief Ministers and Governors at a retreat at his Race Course Road residence in New Delhi on Sunday, after a meeting on Planning Commission revamp. (PTI)

New Delhi: At a unique conclave of Chief Ministers called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to replace the Planning Commission here on Sunday saw a consensus that more power and planning should be devolved to states, but Congress strongly opposed dismantling of the existing 65-year-old body established by Jawaharlal Nehru.

Following up on his Independence Day announcement from Red Fort that the Planning Commission would “soon” be replaced by a “new institution”, Modi was with Chief Ministers for nearly seven hours at his residence deliberating on what should be the future shape of the body.

Modi pushed for an effective structure, which strengthens “co-operative federalism” and the concept of ‘Team India’, and even cited his predecessor Manmohan Singh, saying he too had said on April 30 this year that the current structure has “no futuristic vision in the post-reform period”.

Except Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Mizoram and poll-bound Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, CMs from all other states attended the meeting where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath Singh were also present.

Briefing the media, Jaitley later said there was a “larger consensus” that the “context” has changed and there is a “need to decentralise both power and planning”.

Noting that “there cannot be a universal scheme that suits all states,” he said “it is a fallacy that one size fits all in case of implementation of central schemes”.

The strategy should be to empower the states to enable them to meet their own specific needs, he said.

He gave no timeline about when the new body will be announced, saying the Centre will take a “considered view after consultations are over. However, there were indications that the shape of the new structure, which could also see the involvement of the private sector, may be firmed up by January 26 next year.

Congress Chief Ministers opposed disbanding of the Planning Commission and wanted a revamp of the existing body.

Congress Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma told reporters that dismantling the Planning Commission would be “unwarranted, shortsighted and dangerous” as it will have long-term adverse effect on Centre-state relations.

He said the Planning Commission needed a “reorientation” and not “political burial”. (PTI)