GUWAHATI, Feb 3 - The State Assembly today witnessed unusual scenes with the ruling Congress and Opposition parties, like the AIUDF and the AGP voicing concern in unison over the Centre’s “apathy” towards the State in regard to its funding pattern.
This could be a result of the much talked about “understanding” between the Congress and the regional parties for the ensuing Assembly polls.
After Minister Ajanta Neog, in reply to a question raised by AGP MLA Phani Bhusan on funding pattern of the Centre, told the House said that the change in funding pattern and delinking of schemes in the Union Budget has grossly affected the State, legislators from different parties raised questions over the intent and attitude of the Centre.
Legislators from Congress, AIUDF and the AGP questioned the Centre’s policy in identical tone and also expressed concern over delinking of schemes in the Union Budget, which had allegedly affected the financial position of the State.
When the BJP legislators opposed statements made by the Minister, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, too, joined the debate and termed the NITI Ayog a toothless body with no ‘niti’ (policy) at all.
Gogoi said that the NDA Government has been misleading the people of the State and that such a step-motherly treatment by the Centre was unprecedented.
“I am surprised why the people of Assam are silent on the issue. We are being too polite. Not only Assam, the Centre’s policy has affected all the northeastern States. By withdrawing the Special Category State status, which we were enjoying since 1969, the Centre has denied us special grants. Now we are shown at par with developed States like Gujarat and Maharashtra which is unfortunate,” Gogoi said.
“They are trying to shift to market economy and if that happens, Assam will suffer the most. I will continue to fight against the injustice,” the Chief Minister said.
Echoing similar views, AGP MLA Keshav Mahanta said that the Centre has done injustice to the people of the State by not releasing Rs 1,200 crore meant for flood relief when the State had already released it’s share.
In the year 2014-15, the Centre’s share was Rs 17,568.83 crore compared to the State share of Rs 431.17 crore.
“Similarly, in the year 2015-16, while the Centre’s share was Rs 20,127.79 crore, the State’s share was Rs 5278.21 crore,” Neog stated.
However, contrary to its share, the Centre had only released Rs 12,533.18 crore and Rs 6,357.94 crore in the year 2014-15 and 2015-16. She further stated that there was no clear message from the Centre on the matter and it kept the State government guessing on most occasions.
AIUDF legislator Rahim Khan also alleged that the Centre’s policy has affected the State financial quotient and the people at large.