Opposing the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Monday said progressive states would lose heavily if the 2011 census was taken as the basis for devolution of central funds.
He also demanded that the Centre respect the cooperative federal system. “It is not right to penalise states that are in the forefront in population control. We will not tolerate this injustice. We will fight till justice is secured,” he asserted.
Naidu was speaking after inaugurating the daylong conclave of finance ministers of various states here to discuss the fallout of the 15th Finance Commission’s terms of reference.
He pointed out that Kerala was leading all states in population control, and Andhra Pradesh has adopted firm measures to reduce population growth rate. “But now, population control is not our policy. Our ultimate objective is poverty eradication and we have accordingly been implementing various schemes,” Naidu noted.
He also apprehended that south Indian states would lose seats (in legislatures) if delimitation of constituencies was undertaken based on 2011 population. “South Indian states are under the threat of losing their eminence because they were successful in population control. It is not right for the Centre to penalise such states,” he maintained.
Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy sought the president’s intervention against the ‘unilateral’ decision of the Centre. “The Centre should take decisions in consultation with the states. If not, how can it be called federal spirit,” he said.
Kerala finance minister Thomas Isaac, Andhra Pradesh finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra and others attended the conclave. Last month, Kerala had hosted a conference of finance ministers of various states to discuss issues of common concern with respect to the 15th Finance Commission.
Responding to the concerns raised, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley had said on April 10 that there is no inherent bias or mandate in terms of reference, which could be construed as discriminatory against the states, which have made good progress in population control.
He had said a needless controversy was being sought to be created that the terms of reference of the commission were loaded against any particular region of the country. Pointing to the specific inclusion of reference – efforts and progress made in moving towards replacement rate of population growth – Jaitley had said it recognises the efforts of all the states that have done well in population control.
“This specific terms of reference would allow the 15th Finance Commission to propose a specific incentive scheme to reward the states, which have achieved replacement level of population growth, and also, if the 15th Finance Commission wishes to do so, to assign appropriate weight to the progress made in population control while allocating resources,” Jaitley had stated.