Monday, August 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Naidu to go ahead with meeting
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 20 — The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, seems to have decided to take the Vajpayee government at the Centre head on over the issue of the recommendations of the Eleventh Finance Commission (EFC).

Despite a plea from the Prime Minister yesterday to the aggrieved Chief Ministers not to make their grievances public, Mr Naidu has decided to go ahead with the proposed meeting of the Chief ministers in the Capital tomorrow. The Chief Ministers, including those from Punjab and Haryana, are revolting against the proposed revenue allocations by the Eleventh Finance Commission.

Besides Mr Naidu, the other Chief Ministers allied with the BJP at the Centre, Mr M. Karunanidhi, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Om Prakash Chautala would be attending the meeting. While Mr Naidu took the lead in revolting, Mr Chautala has not been far behind. He has written a letter to the Prime Minister protesting against the reduced revenue allocation.

As a run-up to the meeting, the Finance Secretaries of 13 states, including the BJP-ruled Gujarat, held a meeting here at Andhra Pradesh Bhavan to work out a joint strategy.

They drafted a memorandum which the Chief Ministers would present to the Prime Minister after a meeting with the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, tomorrow seeking “justice” for those states affected by the EFC recommendations.

Asked about reports that the Prime Minister had disfavoured the holding of such a meeting of Chief Ministers, Mr Naidu said he had explained to Mr Vajpayee that the meeting had nothing to do with politics but had only an economic agenda.

Though the BJP had said its Chief Ministers would not be attending tomorrow’s meeting, Gujarat Finance Secretary was present at the preparatory official meeting today. It remains to be seen whether its Chief Minister would be present tomorrow.

The Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are not likely to attend the exercise as they are preoccupied with the Rajkumar hostage crisis and would be deputing senior ministers on their behalf.

Today’s meeting was attended by Principal and Finance Secretaries from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland.

The Finance Secretaries of Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Tripura did not attend today’s meeting in spite of being invited.

Mr Naidu said he was concentrating on some Chief Ministers, including those from the South, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana.

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