Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said that North Indian states are not empowering people as much as the South Indian states, because the North Indian states believe more in centralisation of power while South Indian states believe in ideas like Panchayati Raj.
The Gandhi family scion made this comment during his interaction with former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, which was part of his newly announced series of interactions with experts around the coronavirus pandemic. The series is being seen as another coming of age of Rahul Gandhi, post which he will be ready to lead India globally.
“If you look at the southern states, they are doing a better job because they are actually more decentralised. And the northern states are centralising power, and they are taking away power from the panchayats and grassroot organisations,” Rahul Gandhi said during his interaction.
The comment was made after Rahul Gandhi asked Raghuram Rajan if there was a “crisis of centralisation” that was hampering the fight against the virus. Rajan agreed with the need of decentralisation. He also credited Rahul’s father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for bringing back Panchayati Raj, which helped in decentralisation of power.
The Panchayati Raj Act
Panchayati Raj Act, which was enacted it via the 73rd Constitutional amendment in 1992, when P.V. Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister. However, Rajiv Gandhi is widely credited for it, because he had tried to pass such an act earlier but failed.
Congress party has been accused to fan this North vs South debate in India earlier too. The Congress supporting ecosystem has earlier branded North India a burden on South India due to higher population and allegedly lower tax contribution, while a Congress spokesperson had blamed lack of education among North Indians for Narendra Modi coming back to power in 2019.
Apart from the issue of decentralisation, Rahul Gandhi and Raghuram Rajan discussed various other topics too in the half an hour long discussion that included cost of providing relief to the poor, social harmony, and other challenges around fighting the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.