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Modi seeks to replace central planning with 'Team India'

New Delhi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a brainstorming session on Sunday on replacing Soviet-style central planning with a 'Team India' concept that would give federal states a greater role in developing Asia's third-largest economy.

Although he won a huge election mandate in May, the writ of Mr Modi's government is weak as the majority of India's 29 states are controlled by his opponents. That has led him to seek their help in implementing his growth and jobs agenda. "It is impossible for the nation to develop unless states develop," Mr Modi told a meeting with chief ministers in New Delhi."The process of policy planning also has to change from 'top to bottom' to 'bottom to top'."

As chief minister of Gujarat, Mr Modi objected to meddling by the Planning Commission in his state's affairs. One ally has described the body as a "parking lot" for political cronies and unwanted bureaucrats.

Yet, three months after Mr Modi vowed to replace the Planning Commission "in a short span of time", deliberations on its successor are still in their early stages and there is little sign of a consensus.

The opposition Congress party, whose patriarch Jawaharlal Nehru set up the Planning Commission in 1950, said that while the body needed reorientation, its dismantling was unwarranted.

Speaking after the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the mandate of the body still had to be determined, adding that there was majority support for a structure in which both the centre and states are represented.

It was also unclear, Mr Jaitley added, whether India would scrap the five-year plans introduced by Nehru. The current, 12th five-year plan, runs to 2017.