On a day when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tried to impress upon a group of influential NRIs that the states in India needed to focus on “co-operative federalism” and not be tied down by “competitive federalism”, a number of Chief Ministers who took part in the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas — mostly from NDA ruled states — flaunted growth figures and concepts like “single windows, doors, desks and IT platform” and tried to hard-sell the strengths of their respective states to the same group.
“As a federal polity, India offers a unique opportunity to all the states to pursue its agenda for development and governance with active support from the Centre. India today demands greater impetus to ‘Cooperative Federalism’ than the ‘Competitive Federalism’,” said Rajnath Singh while moderating a special session of the Chief Ministers titled: “Investment Opportunities in States” on the final day of the PBD.
“No state is an island and there has to be an active cooperation and connection among all the states and also between Centre and States,” Singh said on a day when CM’s of only nine states including Gujarat, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Kerala attended the PBD. Kerala was the lone Congress-ruled state to attend the event.
“There are certain challenges facing the economy and the country, but we have to put up a collective fight against these odds,” he told the gathering of NRIs adding that “regional imbalances” and “lopsided development” were major problems that needed to be addressed on priority for equitable growth of the country.
However, the topic of cooperation and equity among states quickly vanished as the Chief Ministers took over the podium. Prakash Singh Badal who was the oldest of the CMs attending the session spoke first and narrated how Punjab had gone a step ahead of “single window system” and introduced a concept of “single person” who is in charge of clearing all bureaucratic hurdles related to all departments.
“We are number one in education and medical (sector). We are already the top most state in agriculture… According to a RBI report Punjab is the third most attractive investment destination and according to a World Bank report Ludhiana is number one city for the ease of doing business,” Badal said emphasing how the state has surplus in power and has managed to grow in spite of hurdles of partition and militancy.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan who spoke next narrated how his state has progressed from being a “bimaru” state, infamous of it’s dacoits, to the one having 24X7 electricity, double-digit growth rate and a phenomenal agriculture growth of 24.99 percent. “In the production of wheat, we had left Haryana behind last year… and this year we have gone ahead of Punjab,” he said adding that his government was now focussed on taking MP towards industralisation.
“Badalsahab (Punjab CM) was talking about single window, but we created a single door (for investments).. Come to MP, because I am there,” Chouhan told the elite gathering while simultaneously telling them that he personal sits with the officers of all the departments every Monday to clear files.
Andhra Pradesh CM, Chandrababu Naidu who came in next said, “You have seen how the CMs are fighting with each other; competing with each other… It is impossible to compete with them with doors and windows, so I will use computers to compete.”
Naidu who described his bifurcated state as a “sun-rise state” used a power-point presentation to put his views across to the NRIs. He said he has created a “single desk” where investors can interact directly with the government “online”, without any physical interface. “AP will be the gateway of India; even for MP,” Naidu said looking at the Shivraj Singh.
The Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, who was the youngest to speak at the event said, “Somebody has opened windows, doors and computers for you (NRIs). We have opened our hearts for you.” Marketing his state as a “changed Maharashtra” and a “land of opportunities”, Fadnavis said that he has used a “Single IT (Information Technology) Platform” in cutting down bureaucratic red-tape. Giving example of a Rs 1600 crore project by CEAT, the CM claimed that he clarified the project in 26-days. “Earlier, if anybody wanted to set up a project in any designated industrial area, 76 permission were needed. This used to take two years. Now, we have scaled the number of permission down to 26 and in the coming days we will ensure that the time taken for getting these permission is not more than two months,” he added.
The CMs of Gujarat, Jharkhand and Goa also marketed their respective states as the slogan of ‘Make in India” gave way to “Make in Punjab, Make in Jharkhand, Made in Andhra and Make in MP. The CM of Kerala Oomen Chandy talked about a variety of issues affecting the NRIs from his state.