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Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM for House role in treaties
- Ally proposes that Parliament should ratify pacts

New Delhi, April 7: The CPM has proposed that the Centre’s powers be redefined so that Parliament gets to ratify all international treaties and state governments have a representative in the Planning Commission.

The suggestions come in response to a questionnaire from a commission assigned to review Centre-state relations. The panel, headed by former Chief Justice of India M.M. Punchhi, is expected to hand in its report by next April.

CPM sources said the party was wiser from its experience in fighting the nuclear deal, and from Delhi’s decision to slash the ration foodgrain quota for Left-ruled Bengal and Kerala.

During the nuclear deal talks, the CPM has repeatedly said that the majority in Parliament is against such an agreement with the US. The government, however, has kept arguing that the Constitution does not require the deal to have parliamentary approval.

On the second suggestion, a CPM source said: “The Planning Commission takes various decisions and advises the Union government on many issues. All of these have an impact on state governments.

“The commission decides the poverty line and the modalities of the public distribution system. Then why shouldn’t states have a representative in the commission?”

Prakash Karat’s party has often accused the Planning Commission of adopting “arbitrary and deceptive methodology” in fixing the below-poverty-line (BPL) cutoff “in order to artificially deflate the level of poverty in the country”.

It has also suggested that above-poverty-line (APL) families be stripped of the benefit of subsidised foodgrain.

One of the CPM’s other proposals is that forums such as the Inter-state Commission and the National Development Council be strengthened. The party has also opposed the conditions set before states by central schemes.

The Punchhi panel, set up in April 2007, is expected to suggest major changes. It will look into legislative and financial relations, resource-sharing, the role of governors and the Centre’s emergency powers.

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