Karnataka's Cong. govt takes fight to Delhi against Centre, to protest at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday

02:06 PM Feb 06, 2024 | PTI |

Stepping up the attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre, the ruling Congress in Karnataka led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will stage a protest in New Delhi on Wednesday, alleging ”injustice” to the State in tax devolution and grants-in-aid over the past few years.


The protest by all Congress legislators and MPs from the state, including Ministers that comes ahead of the ensuing Lok Sabha polls will begin at 11 am tomorrow at Jantar Mantar in the national capital. The protesters would demand Centre set right the losses allegedly incurred by the Karnataka to the tune of Rs 1.87 lakh crore, during five years under the 15th finance commission.

Incidentally, CPI (M) veteran and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his Cabinet colleagues will stage a protest in the national capital against the Centre’s alleged negligence towards the southern state. Elsewhere, in Kolkata TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will stage a protest on Friday against the Centre for allegedly withholding her state’s dues, particularly under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Siddaramaiah had said the protest was aimed at attracting the attention of the central government and the people of the country towards the state’s concerns. So far the state had never staged a protest in Delhi, but due to ”unavoidable reasons”, a situation has come now, for it to do so.

He also urged the opposition BJP and its lawmakers, especially MPs from the state to join the agitation in the interest of Karnataka, as the struggle was against the ”injustice” caused to the state, and not against the saffron party.


He has to all MPs from Karnataka including those from the BJP requesting them to join the protest. Central ministers from the State including Nirmala Sitharaman (Rajya Sabha member) and Pralhad Joshi have also been invited.

The protest comes amid Congress’ efforts to justify the concerns articulated by its MP from Bangalore Rural D K Suesh, who claimed last week that taxes collected from the south were being distributed to north India and that the former were not getting their due share. The southern states will be compelled to demand for a separate nation if the ‘injustice’ was not rectified.

Clarifying that he or his government were not against the Centre giving more funds to northern states that are ”poor” or lacking development, the CM sought no injustice should not be done to states like Karnataka.

This move of staging a protest in Delhi has come amid a section within the ruling Congress in Karnataka proposing that Siddarmaiah take a lead in forming a forum of southern states to ensure equitable distribution of resources from the Centre, including devolution of taxes from the divisible pool.

However, there seems to have been no serious discussion or decision yet on this proposal, which also aims to strengthen the federal fabric while ensuring that southern states have their say, party and official sources said.

The agitation is also aimed at countering the BJP by raising the issue of regional pride and ”injustice” to the state by the party led NDA government, Congress sources added.

While accusing the central government of ”step motherly” treatment to Karnataka and ”disrespecting” federal structure, Siddaramaiah has repeatedly attacked BJP leaders in state and its past government of not doing anything to address the injustice caused to the state due to Centre’s policies.

Despite BJP having 27 Lok Sabha MPs (including one independent and one from JDS) on its side, they have ”not opened their mouth” either in the Parliament or with the government, he had said. The Ministers who are representing Karnataka in the NDA government have also not spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah about the state’s concerns.

However, BJP leaders including Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have come down heavily on allegations that the Centre is withholding funds meant for non-BJP governed states including Karnataka, saying it is a ”politically-vitiated narrative” that ”vested interests” are happy to go about saying so.

”This apprehension that some states are being discriminated against is a politically-vitiated narrative which, I am sorry to say, vested interests are happy to go about saying,” she said on Monday, adding that no Union finance minister can play with the Finance Commission’s recommendations.

Former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the protest is a ”political stunt” aimed at diverting attention from the mistakes of the state Congress government.

Reacting to the Finance Minister’s statement in the Parliament, Siddaramaiah questioned whether the Finance Commission’s autonomy is merely a ”facade under the BJP”.

”The rejection of Rs 5,495 crore in special grants for Karnataka, despite the Commission’s advice, the dwindling grants-in-aid, and the glaring absence of budgeted funds such as the Rs 5,300 crore for the Upper Bhadra project, all lead to the question: Is the Finance Commission’s autonomy merely a facade under BJP?,” the CM asked.


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