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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa stormed out of today’s high-profile National Development Council (NDC) meeting, alleging humiliation by the central government after a buzzer sounded the end of her allotted 10-minute speech time.
“The voices of the CMs have been stifled. Chief ministers were not allowed to speak freely. At the very beginning, we were told only 10 minutes would be allotted to each CM and that after 10 minutes, the bell would ring. This is unheard of,” she said, after coming out.
Later, outside the meeting, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told journalists she should have been allowed to complete her speech, and suggested the government extend the meeting.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted the concerns raised by Jayalalithaa. He thanked other chief ministers (CMs) for complying with the electronically imposed time limit, which helped the government to accommodate 40 speakers in the daylong session of NDC.
Jayalalithaa said if the government had planned to treat CMs in this manner, there was no need to invite any to such conferences. “It is practically impossible to convey everything that a CM wants to say within 10 minutes,” said Jayalalithaa.
Chouhan said the government should think of making NDC a two-day event, so that all the CMs got enough time to raise their concerns.
The government said this reaction was uncalled for. “The prime minister showed a gesture by giving an opportunity to her to speak first, immediately after his speech, though her turn was to come much later. The time allotted to each chief minister is precisely 10 minutes. The same arrangement has been made for CMs of Congress and non-Congress ruled states. Where is the discrimination?” said Rajeev Shukla, minister of state for parliamentary affairs.