People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
THE National Development Council (NDC) meeting, held on September 1, discussed the draft approach paper to the 10th five-year plan. At the conclusion of the deliberations which included speeches by the prime minister, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and the chief ministers of all the states, the prime minister concluded the meeting with a statement that there is a consensus on the approach to the 10th five year plan.
The West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, at this juncture, pointed out that he had in his speech made at least three major points which needed inclusion in the approach document. He listed them as (i) land reforms implementation; (ii) strengthening of the public distribution system; and (iii) tackling the debt burden of the states.
The prime minister asked the West Bengal chief minister whether he wanted to "divide the house." The chief minister replied that his points needed to be addressed. The prime minister asked whether he expected a vote to be taken on this. The West Bengal chief minister replied that the opinions of the chief ministers present could be sought. At this point, the prime minister abruptly closed the meeting.
The draft approach paper to the 10th five-year plan had drawn varying reactions from the chief ministers. Some of them had raised new points and asked for their inclusion in the approach paper. The Tripura chief minister also pointed out the absence of stress on land reforms in the document. Yet the prime minister tried to hastily conclude the meeting, claiming a consensus on the approach paper.
While briefing the press after the NDC meeting, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya clarified that he still insists that the three points he raised should be taken up.
The Vajpayee government has made it a practice to hold meetings with state governments on various subjects and, after different views have been aired, to claim that a "consensus" has been achieved. This is the NDA style of manufacturing consensus.