Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Thursday rubbished AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa's charges that the UPA Government at the Centre was stifling the voices of non-Congress chief ministers, saying her statement is untenable.
"I don't think the accusation that the NDC meeting stifled the voices of the chief ministers is true or tenable. NDC is the highest forum within the structure of government in the country where all chief ministers irrespective of any party affiliations etc. are entitled fully to express their views and they always do so in the best traditions of our federal system, in the best traditions of federalism and our parliamentary democracy," said Kumar.
"I don't think any should have reason to complain about fixing a specified time schedule considering the fact that so many distinguished speakers have to speak within the day," he added.
The law minister said the chief ministers were told to limit their speeches to ten minutes each in the very beginning by Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
"If what has been attributed to her is right, I don't think honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu should have any grievance, because at the start of the deliberations itself, the Deputy Chairperson of Planning Commission had announced that there are ten minutes assigned to each speaker," said Kumar.
"There are more than 30 speakers. So, if you multiply 30 by 10, there are 300 minutes, which is about five hours of continuous conversation, and in between you have lunch and etc. So, I thought with the view to rationalising the time, this time stipulation had been specified. I don't think this is a legitimate cause of a front for anyone," he added.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who walked out in anger from the National Development Council (NDC) meeting being attended by the chief ministers of all states, earlier today said that she had been insulted because she had not been able to complete her speech.
"I was barely able to finish 1/3rd of my speech. To show my protest I have walked out of the NDC meet. I began my speech, they rang the bell soon after. This is humiliating," Jayalalithaa told mediapersons outside the Vigyan Bhavan here.
"We are not being allowed to present our views. The voices of chief ministers are being stifled," she added.
Jayalalithaa had exceeded the limit following which a red light came on indicating she needed to wrap up.
The country's apex planning body, the National Development Council (NDC), a body of all chief ministers and key union ministers headed by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh took place in New Delhi to approve the 12th five year plan. (ANI)