Burnpur (West Bengal), May 10:
Observing that strained centre-state ties have long hindered India’s progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said only ‘Team India’ – the central government and states – can take the country on the path of development.
Dedicating to the nation the Rs.16,000 crore revamped and modernised IISCO Steel plant here in West Bengal’s Burdwan district, Modi also credited Team India’s efforts for the passage in parliament of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh.
Praising Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for stressing on improved centre-state relationship, he said his government, after assuming power, had been endeavouring to strengthen the country’s federal structure.
“The respected chief minister said something great, that more the centre and the state worked shoulder-to-shoulder, faster will be the country’s progress,” Modi said pointing to Banerjee at the event.
Speaking on the occasion, Banerjee harped on improved centre-state relationship, asking them to work together.
Modi said: “While the constitution provides a federal structure, for years there has always been tension in centre-state relationships. Those at the centre ignored the states.
“I too have been a chief minister for many years and know very well that such an attitude on the part of the centre towards states will not help the country.
“That’s why we endeavoured to strengthen the federal structure and asserted that Delhi will not govern the country alone but all the states together will. Only then the country will progress,” said the prime minister.
Describing the prime minister and all the chief ministers as ‘Team India’, Modi said the centre and states together can solve all problems, including issues relating to foreign countries.
“This modern plant is an example of how ‘Team India’ will take the country forward. This plant, which was sick, is now standing on its feet. If the chief minister (Banerjee), the state (Bengal) government had created hurdles, this wouldn’t have been possible.
“This is the effort of ‘Team India’ that we are dedicating this plant to the country,” said Modi.
Modi also thanked Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal for the passage of the key constitutional amendment bill to give effect to the swapping of border land enclaves between India and Bangladesh under a 1974 agreement.
“Since the days of (late Bangladesh leader) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, this agreement had remained stalled. But due to the efforts of the states and the centre, the border issue with Bangladesh has now been settled.
“It’s all because of ‘Team India’. Mamataji worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Delhi on this. This is a matter of pride that whether in the Lok Sabha or the state assemblies, not a single vote was cast against it. All unanimously voted for it,” said Modi.
“If international issues can be solved by ‘Team India’, then issues at home can be dealt with ease.
“There was a time when around 60-65 percent of the country’s wealth was with Delhi. But now, 62 percent of India’s total wealth is with the states and only 38 percent is with Delhi.
“Only when states and Delhi work together is development possible,” Modi said, elaborating his government’s efforts to strengthen the federal structure. (IANS)