Date :09-Feb-2024

PRIME Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s appeal to some political elements not to divide the country into north-south segments for small gains has its own significance in the current scenario. Such effort was done by the Congress and other Opposition parties following the recent legislative elections in five States. They had claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did have a domination in the north Indian region but had no presence in the southern region. That attempt was derided by most people -- commoners as well as political thinkers and experts -- as divisive. A similar effort is now being made once again -- of which the Prime Minister took note and warned against the tendencies that sought to inflict upon the country an artificial north-south division. His concern can be understood in its entirety. In a country as vast as India, democratically-held elections can produce mixed results, which India has often seen. A few political parties also establish their respective areas of dominance and rule the roost there for decades on end. This is also fully understandable and permissible, so to say. Yet, it is a wrong approach if some elements tries to establish some so-called empirical principle of how the country is geographically divided in different political camps. This is the actual concern the Prime Minister feels.
We understand the Prime Minister’s sense of trauma when some elements try to impose upon the country artificial and politically-driven division of the country. We realise that in such a thought lies the seed of future division -- and should, therefore, be avoided at any cost. For, when the country is sought to be segmented thus, the effort invariably leads to irreparable political damage that cosmetic word-play cannot heal. It is necessary, therefore, to avoid such temptation for small political gains. As it started making a point of north-south segmentation on the basis of domination of different parties, the Opposition has brought to fore some statistical details of how the central funds are distributed or allocated among different States by the central fund management system. The allegation, this time, is that the southern States get lesser or smaller fund-shares than their individual contributions to the central kitty. If those statistical details have any truth, then it is time the Central Government gave a serious, no-nonsense thought to the formulae of distribution of central funds to the States. If there are gaps in the sharing of central funds by the States, then those need to be addressed in all seriousness.
The Centre may do well to conduct a serious, in-depth study of the central fund distribution system and the formulae by which the system operates. Such an effort -- and a possible subsequent correction in the application and implementation process -- if undertaken on an urgent basis and given an operational form, then anomalies could be removed and principle of equitability be introduced without any political bias. That will eliminate any chance of complaint from the Opposition camp, if there is any substance in those originally. The principle of devolution of power -- and also fund -- if applied in the most non-partisan manner, then much of politics that gets woven around central assistance would be erased automatically. That will, then , form the basis of improved Centre-State relations in all regions of the country. And when the Government undertakes such an exercise, the Opposition, too, should become more political unbiased so that it does not mislead the voting public into a wrong lane of thinking.The goal is to ensure that no artificial division is imposed on the country politically.