Time and again the Socialist Party has questioned the Constitutional validity of the Planning Commission of India. The Planning Commission was set up through a resolution by the Cabinet within seven weeks of the adoption of the Constitution. The setting up of the Planning Commission, even by a resolution, might have had some plausibility in the initial period since the government resolution specifically refers to the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State as guiding force for planning. It further emphasized that the Planning Commission’s “success will depend on the extent to which it enlists the association and cooperation of the people at all levels”. However, the Planning Commission soon became an epitome of centralized planning negating the very spirit of federalism and role of Finance Commissions. Due to the top unitary approach of the Planning Commission local bodies i.e. Panchayats and Municipalities found no role in planning.
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech has made a declaration to replace the Planning Commission with an alternative institute on lines of Private Public Partnership (PPP) model. The Socialist Party is alarmed by this declaration of the PM and strongly rejects the new proposed institute which may replace Planning Commission.
The UPA government too had appointed a committee to evaluate the role and relevance of the Planning Commission in the era of corporate capitalism. The government appointed Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) in its report suggested dismantling the Planning Commission and replacing it with a ‘think tank’ of ‘reformers’ and instant ‘solution makers’. The IEO report, terming it as “Control Commission”, says, “Since the Planning Commission has defied attempts to reform it to bring it in line with the needs of a modern economy and the trend of empowering the states, it is proposed that the Planning Commission be abolished.” However, the Planning Commission, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Vice Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had been following dictates of the world bodies such as World Bank/IMF/WTO/WEF etc., certain Nehruvian ‘command economy’ restrictions were still there. Mr. Modi, having complete wed-link with corporate capitalism, wants no such restrictions. He wants development through private players. The Socialist Party calls the declaration of the prime minister a mischief against the Constitution and the poor.
The socialist Party demands for stronger measures to protect policy making from corporate interference. The party does not believe in replacing an extra-constitutional body with another extra-constitutional body. For Socialist Party the real issue is decentralization of power, including economic, as envisaged by Dr. Rammanohar Lohia in his famous speech namely ‘Four Pillar State’ delivered on 26.02.1950, after one month of the commencement of the Constitution. Dr. Lohia’s concept of Chaukhambha Raj - village, district, state and centre - is an extension of Gandhi’s concept of ‘gram-swaraj’. Adhered to decentralization the spirit of the Directive Principles of State the Socialist Party believes that the right of natural resources such as land, water, minerals, flora-fauna; allocation of funds; task of policy making; and planning for all developmental works should be done firstly at Panchayats and Municipalities level. It is a constitutional duty of every elected government as per the commands of the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution of India (1993). The governing mechanism at all levels should be decentralized and the real power should flow from the Panchayats and Municipalities through District Planning Committees.
The Socialist Party will take the constitutional fight for decentralization to the people through various awareness programs. The fight for decentralization is a fight for democratic socialism.
Dr. Prem Singh