BJP's agenda is 'One India', centralism: Chidambaram on Centre vs states

4 months ago 25

By India Today News Desk: Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, speaking at India Today's Conclave South 2023 on the topic of federalism, said the BJP-led Centre is moving towards 'One India' concept, in which the dominant principle will be centralism. Chidambaram talked about the Delhi ordinance and misuse of central agencies to highlight the tussle between the Centre and the states.

"The BJP's agenda is 'one India', centralism of the kind we find in Turkey, China and Russia. It does not believe in states being near-equal partners with the Centre. What is happening over 4-5 years, is far more sinister than saying misusing power. They are moving towards 'One India' concept, in which the dominant principle will be centralism," Chidambaram said.

"One voter list, one ration card, one language, one syllabus, one history, one culture. We are all rebelling against it very strongly. In southern India, there is a deep concern," the veteran Congress leader added.

Chidambaram, a member of Rajya Sabha, further said every state in India is now bristling with the kind of encroachment which the Centre is making into its executive powers and legislative power.

"The problem, if not addressed upfront, will become more and more acute," he said, giving examples of education and cooperative sectors to establish his claim of the Centre's "encroachment" on state powers.

Chidambaram believes the correct way to describe the problem is Centre vs states, except the CMs of BJP-ruled states who are "mute witnesses".

"If they protest, they will not be CMs tomorrow," the Congress MP said.


Chidambaram believes there is a pushback from states such as Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Himachal and in states where regional parties come to power or get re-elected.

"There won't be a pushback from BJP-ruled states as the BJP structure has already adopted centralism," the Congress leader said.


Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party is locked in a bitter tussle with the BJP-led Centre since the Union government promulgated an ordinance to create a National Capital Civil Service Authority which will handle the transfer of bureaucrats and also matters of disciplinary proceedings against them.

A central law has to be brought to replace the ordinance and opposition parties are hoping to stall that in the upper house or Rajya Sabha when it comes up for debate.

"My legal view is the ordinance will be struck down. The political step that has to be taken is beyond my competence. I can't say that. It can only be said by the Congress president after consulting all the stakeholders," Chidambaram said.

"I am still a member of Congress and thus the party's stand on the Delhi ordinance issue will be addressed by party president Mallikarjun Kharge," he added.


Chidambaram said, "How are 90 per cent of the alleged accused raided by the ED and CBI belong to Opposition parties? How do you explain it? If the underlined principles of the statistics apply, then there should be a certain proportion of BJP ministers, MPs, MLAs and party leaders who should also be raided."

"The misuse of federal agencies at the instance of the political executive will lead to disaster and people need to understand this," he added.


"Why was an invitation not sent to the President when the Constitution says Parliament shall consist of the President and the two Houses of Parliament," Chidambaram said while spelling out the reason behind Opposition's boycott of the inauguration of new Parliament building by PM Modi on May 28.


Chidambaram said nobody is questioning the prime minister's legitimacy but his actions such as the introduction of Rs 2,000 following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

"The withdrawal of Rs 2,000 notes is a good decision to correct a foolish decision," he said.

"One day the seat will be vacated by you and somebody else will occupy the seat. Keep that in mind before taking any decision," Chidambaram said, adding that limiting the term is good for the state and the Centre.