Protests against 10-minute limit to speech
An angry Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa walked out of the National Development Council meeting here on Thursday, protesting against the 10-minute time limit for speeches.
Emerging from the meeting, Jayalalithaa hit out at the Central Government, accusing it of “stifling” the voice of States by restricting their speeches and termed it as a “big humiliation”.
The Centre, meanwhile, claimed that information about the time limit had been sent in advance to all States. Sindhushree Khullar, Secretary in the Planning Commission, is said to have sent letters to all Chief Secretaries, conveying the maximum time limit.
Sources said the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister was on page 10 of her 28-page speech when the bell rang signalling her to end it.
The NDC meeting is a day-long event that starts with the opening remarks by the Deputy Chairman and the inaugural speech by the Prime Minister. After this, all the Chief Ministers and Administrators speak with interventions by the Union Finance and Agriculture Ministers.
“The Prime Minister showed a gesture by giving an opportunity to her to speak first immediately after his speech, though her turn was to come much later. The time allotted to each Chief Minister is precisely 10 minutes,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla told reporters here.
He denied her allegation about discrimination against non-Congress Chief Minister by saying that the same arrangement has been made for all Chief Ministers. “Leaders should not make political capital out of such events,” he added.
In her speech, Jayalalithaa said she found that no reasonable and legitimate suggestion from States had been accepted and the “big brotherly and undemocratic approach of superimposing on elected State governments the dubious policies, priorities and programmes of a minority ruling coterie in Delhi has prevailed”.
“We get the impression that the Government at the Centre is indifferent about reducing poverty. The Union Government, far from serving the common man, is conspiring against him by hiking the prices of essential commodities and inputs and appears more focused on facilitating the interests of foreign investors,” she added.
She accused the Centre of being “completely ineffective” in playing its constitutional role in ensuring that the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was duly notified.
“The Central Government has also failed in protecting the citizens of the country, the fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu, from attacks across the maritime boundary,” she added.