New Delhi: Interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, during a virtual meeting with six Chief Ministers, including West Bengal's Mamata Banrjee and Maharashtra's Uddhav Thackeray, on Wednesday termed the compulsory GST compensation not being paid to the states as "betrayal" on the part of the Narendra Modi government.
"There are two issues related to the Centre and the states and the Parliament is scheduled in next three weeks, so we should have a coordinated approach," Sonia Gandhi said.
The Congress leader said that GST compensation is a big issue and paying it on time is crucial.
"And I know it is not happening on time. The finances of the states are badly affected," she said.
She pointed out that GST was enacted as an example of "cooperative federalism" and it came into existence because states agreed to forego their powers in the larger national interest and on a promise of compulsory GST compensation for a period of five years.
She also said that in the meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance on August 11, the Finance Secretary had stated that the Central government is not in a state to pay the 14 per cent compulsory compensation to the states.
"This is nothing short of betrayal on the part of the Modi government," Sonia Gandhi said.
She also alleged that ordinances have been issued without discussing with the states and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has already highlighted it.
Targeting the government over the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), she said that there is an outcry over it.
"Laws meant to protect the environment and livelihoods and public health are being weakened. The auctions of coal mines have already been objected to by some Chief Ministers," Sonia Gandhi said, adding that some states have already expressed their opposition.
She also targeted the government for handing over six airports to private players and for the privatisation of railways.
The Congress chief also lamented the government over the National Education Police (NEP) and said, "Announcements like NEP should really worry us, because it is actually a setback that displays insensitivity towards the states. There are other problems of the students which are being dealt uncaringly."
Besides Banerjee and Thackeray, the meeting was also attended by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy.
Speaking in the meeting, Banerjee said, "The government has already announced NEET and JEE exams but how the students will appear for the examinations I don't know."
She said that in the month of April, the UGC had sent a letter stating that it will defer these examinations and will go for some other options.
"And now the JEE and the NEET examinations are to be held as per the schedule. I do not know how the students will sit in the exams. I can understand that the government will say that the Supreme Court has given the verdict and that's why the government is doing these things," she said.
The West Bengal Chief Minister said that she has written to the Prime Minister over the NEET and JEE exams.
"The government can appeal to the apex court to review its decision so that the students' community can feel that it is not harassed," she said.
The meeting of the opposition leaders came a day ahead of the GST council meeting.