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Conflicts between the Center and the States

The Centre-state relations is one of the most contentious topics for people who are interested in the study of devolution of powers between the state and central government.

Let us examine what makes this topic a contentious one:

  1. Revenue sharing:
  2. Indirect taxes, a part of it is with the centre(Excise, Customs and Service Tax) and a part of it is with the state (VAT, CST, Entry Tax) and very often, the states are not able to meet their revenue needs and expect patronage from the Centre, which already runs a deficit budget.
  3. Additionally, states which are strong in the service sector are unable to collect taxation revenues as service tax is a Central levy.
  4. So GST is a good measure to improve the state – centre relationship and also remove the various ambiguities involved; once the revenue sharing between centre and state gets crystallised over the days.

  1. The role of the Governor:
  2. The role of Governor is important (even though he is appointed by the President, who acts on the behest of the Union Cabinet) because he is the who decides whether to give assent to the bills passed by the Assembly or reserve it for the reconsideration of the President (Article 200) – this power may be misused to logjam the functions of the state government in case it is not an ally of the Centre Government.
  3. Also, the provisions given to the Governor to recommend emergency provisions in the state,whatever the situation and reason maybe, like dismissing the state government and impose President’s Rule.
  4. To address this issue, giving the State Government a say while choosing the Governor can somewhat reduce this problem.


  1. No involvement of the state government in handpicking administrative machinery:
  2. As needs and qualities of the officers required by various state government varies especially All India Services cadre.
  3. Inability of the state government to take action towards administrative machinery particularly All India Services.

  1. Feeling of imposition of certain issues by the Central Government on states.
  2. Need of states varies based on their conditions present in the state.


  1. Law and order:
  2. Another state subject which often conflicts or overlaps with a lot of Central Agencies such as when a case is transferred to CBI or ED and abrupt transfer of such cases occasionally create some tensions in the state.
  3. The point at which such transfers happen and better coordination between the state police and the central agencies could be the key.

  1. Natural Resources:
  2. Certain resources are a state subject (eg – water), certain others of the centre (eg – coal).
  3. This has not only caused disputes with the centre but also disputes among states (like TN and Karnataka).

  1. Communication:
  2. Very often, there is lack of communication between state and centre during crisis (such as calamities) and very often, the Centre’s evaluation comes too late.
  3. An MLA would claim she or he would raise the issue with the centre but very often, it is not communicated clearly.
  4. Perhaps, every state could have a Minister in their Cabinet particularly to liaison with the Centre (as of now, I have hardly seen this arrangement in any state) in order to ensure better coordination between the state and the centre.
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