Never in the recent past has the threat to the core values of federalism been as serious as it is now, with the NDA government systematically usurping the rights of the states and taking unilateral and arbitrary decisions. The power and function of the state governments are being repeatedly breached upon by the present regime at the Centre. Lack of respect for the federal structure is very clear. No wonder there is a growing sense of frustration among the states over the steady erosion of the federal spirit that binds the country together. On every issue with federal ramifications, the Centre has been quite insensitive while pushing its agenda, instead of taking the consensus route and trying to get the states on board. The institutions meant to strengthen the Centre-state relations are being weakened and made redundant. One such institution that illustrates the deplorable trend is the NITI Aayog. Though it was started with the lofty objective of bringing the states on the same page with the Centre, it has been rendered useless over the past few years. The principles of cooperative federalism are being observed more in the breach than in practice. The Centre’s actions show that the NITI Aayog has gone astray as the states are not included as equal partners in the national developmental agenda.
There is clear and blatant discrimination against some states even in the legitimate functions assigned to them in the Constitution. Though in the initial stages the NITI Aayog had constituted a group of chief ministers to give recommendations on developmental issues, it was deliberately kept aside and the Centre is now micromanaging the schemes, giving a go-by to the state-specific needs which are best left to the individual states. The Centre has turned a blind eye even to the recommendations of the NITI Aayog itself. It is clear that the Centre is not treating the states as equal partners in nation-building. In the last few years, there has been a growing tendency to over-centralise powers, be it in the implementation of the goods & services Tax regime, devolution of taxes to the states, or pushing through the controversial farm laws that are not only detrimental to the interests of farmers but also amount to usurping the powers of the states.