The third list has been well named as ‘concurrent’ wherein both the Union and State Governments have to concur on the subjects for execution; it is not mere ‘consultation’ but a most ‘Concurrent’. But all the rulers at the Centre, including the BJP are deliberate in exercising the power in ‘Concurrent List’ as ‘General List’ as if both the Union and the State Governments have got exclusive power.
President, Dravidar Kazhagam
Indian polity is neither unitary nor federal but it is ‘towards federal’ as founded by the framers of the Indian Constitution. During the 70 years of independence, both in letter and the spirit ‘towards federalism’ have been consistently weakened. Since 2014, after BJP assumed the office of the Union Government, the declining trend has gained momentum. More than that the movement is being shifted ‘towards unitary’ political setup with the brutal majority of BJP in the Lok Sabha. The saffron rulers have started adopting ‘if not now; never’ approach in the governance of the country, strengthening unitary political philosophy of its ideologue, R.S.S. – Golwalkar.
To the extent, the outcome of the proceedings of Constituent Assembly is known to the public, the debate and discussions held while arriving at each subject are not popularly known. The remnants of such debates and discussions have been rightly manifested in Linguistic Reorganisation of Indian States in 1956. This was the major step taken to recognise and ensure that India is a country of plurality of languages, culture and multi religious societies. ‘Unity in Diversity’ has to be the spirit of the democratic governance of the country. But at the same time, Unity, does not mean Uniformity, it should be borne in mind!
Our Indian Constitution has reflected the positive and suitable features of the Constitution of major democratic countries. This clearcut expression is not respected by the rulers. The governing power and authority of the country is not confined to a single centre. The power and authority have been evened up in between the Union Government and State Governments not on bifurcation terms but trifurcation with one more category where both the Centre and State have to concur and execute. They are Union List, State List and Concurrent List. The third list has been well named as ‘concurrent’ wherein both the Union and State Governments have to concur on the subjects for execution; it is not mere ‘consultation’ but a most ‘Concurrent’. But all the rulers at the Centre, including the BJP are deliberate in exercising the power in ‘Concurrent List’ as ‘General List’ as if both the Union and the State Governments have got exclusive power. There are ample evidences and incidents on the wrongly but deliberately misused execution of power on the subjects, covered in ‘Concurrent List’.
One instance of such crossing of border on power of execution can be pointed out.
When the Constitution was framed originally the subject of ‘Education’ was placed only under the State List and only the States have to execute its authority exclusively on it. In 1976, the democracy was under peril due to the declaration of emergency. Freedom of speech and expression was put under hold! During that period the subject of ‘Education’ was transferred from ‘State List’ to ‘Concurrent List’. Such transfer of power took place with the approval of the Parliament without any discussion, when the representatives of opposition parties in Parliament were shut in jail. So there was no iota of democratic element involved in this process. (42nd Amendment which was later on changed but not this subject of ‘Education’).
The latest highlight of such usurped executive power resulted in the introduction of NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for admission to the studies in medical and dental colleges on all India basis by the Union Government. The Union Government’s ignoring the sentiments and reasonable rights of the States within the frame work of Constitution is at its peak in respect of NEET. The irrelevance of NEET is obvious on many valid grounds. The exemption from NEET was sought by Tamil Nadu State Government through the legislation of two Bills, unanimously passed in the State Legislative Assembly and was sent for the assent of the President of India. Till date, the fate of those two Bills has not been explained by the Union Government. The rejection of petition filed by the Government of Tamil Nadu in Supreme Court of India was easily facilitated by the argument of Government of India that exemption to one State alone is not viable. The stand of the GoI is an utter betrayal with scant respect for the constitutional provisions. The 92nd Report of the Parliament Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare has given its recommendations on Common Medical Entrance Test (CMET) as follows:
“The Committee also recommends that introduction of CMET should be done across the nation barring those States who wish to remain outside the ambit of the CMET. However, if any such States wish to join the CMET later, there should be a provision to join it.”
Despite these factors in favour of State Government, the demand of TN State Government was not heeded by the BJP Government. It is akin to the horse that not only had shunned down the rider but dug the grave to ditch. The rights of the States have been, belittled and ignored ultimately. In this entire episode, because of denial of medical course admission, a girl from very downtrodden and suppressed community even after having secured very high marks in the qualifying course of 12th standard had to end her life.
The proof of a pot boiled rice lies in its single rice. These are many instances in the Independent India where the ‘Rights of States’ have been curbed and curtailed.
This is right time to re-launch the movement to regain the grabbed rights of States besides securing new rights of States to strengthen the ‘towards federal’ concept.
The launch of the movement was carried out by Anna, the late lamented Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 1968. He raised the issue of the non-necessity of two educational ministers both at the Union and the State when the subject of ‘Education’ was under the State List then. Member of the Constituent Assembly Krishnaswamy Bharathi, a veteran Congress leader has emphasized, when it was stated that the Union Government has to be strong, it did not mean that the States had to be weak. The torch for State autonomy, lifted by Anna was sustained by Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi, who succeeded Anna as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Kalaignar during the DMK rule in 1971 formed the first statutory Committee of Enquiry of the Centre and State Relations under the Chairmanship of Justice P.V. Rajamannar to suggest the ways and means to protect the Rights of the States and the sharing of power has to be strengthened in between the Union and the States. In 1985, when late M.G.Ramachandran, then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu answered the questionnaire, sent by Justice R.S. Sarkaria Commission formed to examine the relationship and balance of power between State and Central Governments, has clearly stated thus:
“Whenever any legislation is enacted by the Parliament on a subject covered under ‘Concurrent List’, the concurrence of the State has to be sought by the Centre. If it is not sought such enactment will not be applicable to the respective State.”
All the demands for the Rights of the States have to be strengthened further to ensure the available power and authority besides enhancing them. Providing State Autonomy is the only solution; a permanent solution too.
The popular CM of the integrated State of Andhra Pradesh and founder of Telugu Desam party, late N.T.Rama Rao once remarked thus:
“The real representative- rulers of people are the State governments. Only States have direct contact with people and are vested with the responsibility of attending the need and redress of their grievances. The Central Government has no such establishment. It is only a legal postulate.”
The State Governance is not a puppet show, dancing to the tune of the Centre. The Centre cannot dictate the terms on governance of the States, which is empowered by the Constitutional mandate through the electorate.
The voice for State Autonomy has to be intensified throughout the country. The States ruled by the parties other than BJP, have commenced the movement for State Autonomy.
Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) convened ‘Conference on Regaining the Rights of the States’ at Chennai on 25th August 2017. Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) convened on 21st September 2017 ‘Conference on State Autonomy’ at Chennai. Com. Pinarayi Vijayan, the CM of Kerala participated in it. The CM of Karnataka has already raised voice for a flag to signify the State identity in addition to the national flag.
The voice for State Autonomy has been gaining momentum. The voice for State Autonomy is based on ‘unity’ of the country and not ‘uniformity’ as misunderstood by the rulers at the Centre. It is definite that the ball moved into the playfield will reach the goal post.