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Manmohan faults Modi govt for abolishing plan panel

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today faulted the Narendra Modi dispensation for “abolishing hastily” the Planning Commission that helped weaker states and poorer regions.

“I am concerned that the Planning Commission that helped weaker states and poorer regions has been abolished hastily,” said Singh addressing a conclave of Congress Chief Ministers.

Modi government has replaced the plan panel with NITI Aayog. The National Institution for Transforming India Aayog has been mandated to serve as a policy think-tank for the central and state governments and has Prime Minister as its Chairperson.

Congress Chief Ministers like Himachal Pradesh’s Veerbhadra Singh had batted for the disbanded Planning Commission.

“The Planning Commission was better than the Niti Aayog as it used to take up the issues of the states with the ministries concerned as opposite to the Niti Aayog that, I personally feel, has no clear directives for special category states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” the CM had said.

The former Prime Minister also slammed the BJP for its “obstructionist” role in blocking the GST bill during the UPA rule. “We made every effort to make GST a reality but we were up against an obstructionist BJP,” he said.

Taking a dig at the ruling party, he said,”Now, BJP has become the greatest champion of GST.”

Expressing reservations over the GST bill being considered now, Singh said, “I am not sure that the law we are presently considering is best route forward.”

The GST bill has been referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha after Congress insisted that some new amendments brought in needed parliamentary scrutiny.

Singh, who is hailed as the architect of economic reforms in the country, said doubts have been expressed about the validity of the new GDP numbers.

“There is somewhat an euphoria that our GDP growth since 2014-15 has started accelerating once again….doubts have been expressed both within and outside government about the validity of new GDP numbers,” he said.

Singh favoured greater untied funds being made available to state governments.

In his address, Rahul Gandhi suggested each Congress state should focus on 2-3 transformational programmes and make them the best in the country.

“We should showcase that the 9 Congress states are the best run states in the country,” he told the Chief Ministers.

Gandhi said the CMs present had wisdom and experience in the Congress’ development paradigm and “we must be guided by them”.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the deepening distress in the agricultural sector boded ill for the entire economy. “Farmers’ distress is the biggest challenge we face,” he said.

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