New Delhi, Aug.18: Narendra Modi descended, in a manner of speaking, from the BJP high table he has occupied since last May when party chief Nitin Gadkari unofficially put him on a par with the Delhi power quartet comprising himself, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and L.K. Advani.
Today, he was another chief minister at a convention of heads of BJP-ruled states called by Gadkari on the lines of similar meetings the Congress had convened when it was in the Opposition.
He even proposed making a film on the states that the BJP ruled on its own or with an ally, including Bihar, and spotlighting their schemes for the “poor and the disempowered” and the minorities. “He specifically said NDA-ruled states and obviously that includes a state we are proud of, namely Bihar,” a source said.
Just as the Congress used its conferences in Guwahati, Srinagar, Mount Abu and Chandigarh to flaunt its “regional” leaders when it was in the Opposition and the BJP-led NDA was in power, so too the BJP used the occasion to showcase its state governments as a foil to the UPA.
BJP sources said they hoped the “messages” emanating from the daylong affair would show up the UPA’s “warts and blemishes” more conspicuously. Gadkari summed them as GD-PP (governance deficit and policy paralysis).
Modi and his chief minister colleagues, notably Shivraj Singh Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh, spoke out against the Centre’s “discrimination”.
Singh “clarified” that his government had never opposed the Centre’s decision to auction coal blocks. Sources at the in-camera meeting quoted him as telling central ministers that since Chhattisgarh had started a number of thermal power plants, the process of auctioning must not impair coal supplies to these units.
“Baat ka batangad banaaye jaa raha hai (something small is being blown out of proportion) to save the PM’s skin,” he reportedly alleged.
Narrating his latest tale of woe against Delhi, Modi said the Centre had blocked a Gujarat project to supply piped gas to domestic users, using the resource from the state’s natural gas corporation. The Centre reportedly quoted an “archaic” law citing sole jurisdiction over the production and distribution of natural gas.
Modi, sources said, told the meeting he had even tried to convince Pranab Mukherjee — he was finance minister then — that if the project fructified, the Centre’s expenditure on providing LPG would be saved.
Chauhan’s carp was while the Centre launched exemplary social schemes, it expected the states to pick up a “disproportionate” part of the costs. When they were unable to do it, the governments were rapped for “below par performance”.
Asked what were the main takeaways of the event, conceptualised and executed by Gadkari and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, a source said: “How well governments are doing in the face of adversities like a Centre violating federal principles, a tottering economy and adverse weather conditions. Madhya Pradesh has registered a record agricultural growth, for instance, and Chhattisgarh’s PDS has been commended as a role model by NAC members (Aruna Roy and ex-member Jean Dreze).”