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Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi demands review of entire gamut of Centre-state ties

Gandhi said he would not participate in the volunteer's convention in Bathinda on August 2 being organized by Khaira and AAP MLAs supporting him.

PTI Last Updated at 31 Jul 2018, 19:07 IST India

Claiming that the Centre has been usurping the states' rights in the name of federalism and reducing them to the status of "beggars", Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi today demanded a review of "the entire gamut of the Centre-state ties" and sought "internal autonomy" for the states.

"The diversities that India is proud of, can blossom only under the democratic conditions of federal structure based on principles of freedom, equality, and fraternity. For such a democratic climate, the only bulwark can be an internal autonomy for the states," the Patiala MP, suspended from his party AAP, told a news conference here.

Gandhi, who has floated a political outfit, 'Punjab Manch' after his suspension from the AAP, said the Centre should take immediate steps to review and renegotiate the whole gamut of Centre-state relations so that India becomes "truly federal through

internal autonomy to the states and states become capable enough to carry out the social welfare of its people as mandated by the Constitution."

The suspended AAP leader said 'Punjab Manch' firmly believes that Punjab has been a victim of "unconstitutional and coercive agreements on its natural resources, especially its waters and hydroelectric resources, since Independence."

"It further believes that the Central government has always appropriated, and continues to appropriate a disproportionate share of Punjab's revenue. This is a commonality with several other states too," he alleged.

"We want internal autonomy for Punjab," he said.

Replying to a question, Gandhi sought to clarify that demanding internal autonomy does not mean "we are talking about separating from Indian Union, but we want to remain in a true federal structure. States should be given their rights. But in the name of the federal structure, rights of states have been usurped regularly by the Centre and they have been reduced to (the status of) beggars".

"Today, Punjab and the most of other states are under debts of lakhs of crores of rupees and the most of their budgetary allocation goes out in repaying loans. Punjab's debt is around Rs 2.25 lakh crore and servicing of this debt consumes around Rs 28,000 crore per year," said the Patiala MP.

Referring to Punjab, Gandhi said, "We want our control on our natural resources, on our water, on Chandigarh, on Punjabi speaking areas, on power projects etc."

"Health, employment, agriculture field, environment, everything lies on the shoulders of the states, but states are devoid of resources," he further continued.

Meanwhile, when asked about "the crisis within Punjab unit of AAP" after removal of Sukhpal Singh Khaira as the Leader of Opposition by the party's leadership, Gandhi said, "The AAP in Punjab is heading for a vertical split and this will happen in a matter of few weeks".

"Khaira had also raised voice on the intra-party democracy, for which I, Yogendra Yadav and others had raised ours too at one point of time. The party, which came into existence claiming that there would be no personality cult and no high command culture, has taken only two years where we are hearing that AAP is Kejriwal and Kejriwal is AAP," he said.

Gandhi said he would not participate in the volunteer's convention in Bathinda on August 2 being organized by Khaira and AAP MLAs supporting him.

He, however, added, "Khaira is fighting for democracy within the party, his fight is against the high command culture. I respect his cause, but at the same time if he limits himself to this democracy aspect, it is less likely that we are going to be on the same page, but if he talks issues and things that our Manch is raising, we may have a common ground."

Gandhi and another AAP MP from Punjab Harinder Singh Khalsa were suspended from the primary membership of the AAP for "indiscipline and anti-party activities" over two years back.

The ultimate aim of the 'Punjab Manch' is to evolve into a strong regional political outfit, Gandhi had said earlier.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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