New Delhi: In what could be yet another flashpoint with the government, Opposition-ruled states are planning a conclave of chief ministers and finance ministers in the national capital next month over the controversial issue of fund devolution from the Centre. Interestingly the conclave would be held barely a month before Assembly polls in at least five crucial states.
Though sources said that invitations would be sent to all state governments across the country, it was unlikely that any Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states will participate. The conclave would discuss the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission which many states from the South had claimed was detrimental to their interests and would end up diminishing their share of Central assistance.
A similar conclave had been held in April in Kerala which was attended by the finance ministers of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and the chief minister of Puducherry. It had been resolved in the meeting to enlist the support of all states not ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party and appeal to President Ram Nath Kovind to rework the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission.
The participants at the conclave had decided to involve the governments of West Bengal, Punjab, Odisha and Delhi to submit a memorandum to the President and explore legal options. They would try to elicit the support of Tamil Nadu and Telangana governments, which had not send their representatives to the meeting.
Following this, many conclaves had been held in various southern states. The sources told this newspaper that deliberations for organising the conclave had begun and as a part of this, Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac, who was in Delhi on Thursday met Delhi deputy chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia.
The primary objection raised by the states relates to the change in the base point for revenue allocation from 1971 census to 2011 census as the base point for revenue allocation.
Some of the states, especially from the south, claim that they have managed to arrest population growth and it should not be used to curtail their allocation.