ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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COVID-19 Crisis and the Centre–State Relations

Centralisation of powers and blaming the states cannot go together.


The history of federal relationship between the states and the centre is fraught with cold indifference at its best and tension and conflict at its worst. It is needless to emphasise that the context of opposing political ideologies and pragmatic orientations has always supplied grounds on which the ruling regime at the centre and governments at the states mount their mutual tensions from time to time. As the history of conflicting rather than cooperative federalism shows, it is the centre that seems to have been intolerant of the state government. The centre was not only dismissive of the autonomous existence of the states with different and radical ideologies, but it has often been discriminatory in its attitude towards the states with oppositional political background. Of course, this was rightly criticised from time to time by those states that were at the receiving end of the ire of the centre. The studied indifference adopted by the centre sought to reduce the genuine nature of the complains of the states to rhetoric that treated these complaints as a matter of habit, hence, without substance and sincerity. It, by implication, suggested that federal framework creates hurdles for the centre in its attempt to intensify its capacity to harass the states.

The current series of complaints made by some of the state governments in regard to the centre’s alleged discriminatory approach are sought to be reduced to the level of shrill rhetoric by the centre, which, according to the logic of inconvenient federalism, has no merit. Allegations made by certain ministers in Maharashtra and also the chief minister of Delhi about the unfair treatment meted out to certain states on vaccine distribution, oxygen supply, availability of life-saving medicines, and extra favouring of certain states do not bode well for the health of the citizens as well the institutional health of the republic. The conduct of the leaders of the opposition in states where the ruling party in the centre finds itself in opposition gives credence to such allegations. Their conduct points towards a base tendency of attempts to destabilise the state governments using the current conditions of crisis.

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Updated On : 1st May, 2021
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