New Delhi, Dec. 11: The finance ministers of the six BJP-ruled states and Orissa, where the BJP is part of a coalition headed by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), alleged that their governments were being discriminated against by the Centre and criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his 'helplessness'.
As a sequel to the meeting of their chief ministers, the finance ministers met today for a day-long session inaugurated by Jaswant Singh and chaired by Yashwant Sinha, both former Union finance ministers.
Singh set the tone by alleging in his address that the Punjab government's decision to stop or drastically reduce water supply from the Bhakra-Nangal dam to neighbouring Rajasthan was a 'serious blow to national integrity and a clear evidence of the discriminatory mindset of Congress rulers'. He expressed surprise that the Prime Minister conveyed his 'helplessness at such undemocratic and discriminatory actions'.
Briefing the press, Sinha said the BJP governments would keep a hawk's eye on the Centre's 'discrimination', gather the facts and raise a hue and cry either on their own or in tandem with the central leaders who, he added, would raise it in Parliament.
Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who also holds the finance portfolio, said his government had to finance the 'maintenance and upgradation' of roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna, which was launched by the previous NDA regime.
Sinha feared that their government's decision to start six new All India Institutes of Medical Science might either be scuttled by the present dispensation or only set up in non-BJP-ruled states.
But the conference, stressed Sinha, was not just a diatribe against the Centre. It had arrived at 'positive' conclusions as well. The governments were told to identify a USP, package and hawk it at home and abroad so that the BJP could sustain its claim that it had replaced the Congress as the 'natural' party of 'good governance'. But the only USP he mentioned today was the Goa government's ability to host the state's first-ever international film festival 'successfully'.
Among other nuggets of advice doled out by Sinha and Singh was that the states should project themselves as 'models in fiscal management'.