Benefits of Centre-state harmony
TAKING into account of the sops being doled out by the Union government to Manipur regularly after the BJP formed a coalition government, it could be safely concluded that the Centre-state relations improve significantly when the same political party holds the rein of power. In what could be described as the acknowledgement of the people’s yearning for better transport facility in the state, the Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had announced Rs 22,000 crore package to undertake improvement works of various roads and bridges, including proper maintenance of the Imphal-Jiribam section of National Highway-37. Though the package was sanctioned when the Congress party was in power and campaigning for the state assembly elections was gaining momentum, the announcement sent out a clear message on what was in store in case BJP is voted to power. The Union government sanctioning Rs 150 crore for the construction of women’s markets at the headquarters of hill districts in addition to in-principle approval of other development proposals, days after a BJP-led coalition government was formed here, followed by Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram announcing Rs 22 crore package for tribal welfare projects on Thursday are confirmation that financial issues would not be a hurdle for development projects as long as there is Centre-state harmony. For an economically backward state like Manipur, patronage of Central government is inevitable to implement welfare projects and to materialise the N Biren government’s objective to bring uniform development for bridging the hill-valley disparity in development work. While it is clear that Manipur needs continuous support of the Centre, the state government on its part will have to ensure that the coalition partners do not feel ignored in order to uphold the basics of cordial relationship, which has been the essence in a multiparty system.
Compared to the later stages of previous Congress government, which were marked by complaints over unilateral decisions by the Central government on fiscal issues and additional financial responsibilities to the state to bear variable cost for implementing centrally-sponsored projects, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the N Biren government is unlikely to face any serious financial issues if it maintains transparency in governance and translate into action assurances made to the people during the election campaign. Increasing transparency and coordination with the project implementing departments or agencies with particular emphasis on improving efficiency and blemish free utilisation of the central funds is bound to convince the Centre for unrestrained funding for the state’s progression. Notwithstanding differences in political ideologies and ambition among the allies, those at the helm of affairs in Manipur should realise that the existence of the BJP-led NDA-II government is an opportunity to undertake infrastructure development projects that could put the state back on the track of development. Though the power supply situation has improved to a great extent, everyone knows that there is lack of adequate reforms in education, health and agriculture in the state and as such the coalition partners need to keep aside the petty differences and work for justifying the people’s mandate.