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  India   Politics  08 Feb 2024  Karnataka CM, Congress leaders protest against Centre at Jantar Mantar

Karnataka CM, Congress leaders protest against Centre at Jantar Mantar

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Feb 8, 2024, 1:29 am IST
Updated : Feb 8, 2024, 1:29 am IST

The Congress alleged that "injustice" has been meted out to Karnataka in tax devolution and grants-in-aid over the past few years

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah addresses the gathering during a protest by the Karnataka Congress leaders against the Centre, at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar is also seen. (PTI)
 Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah addresses the gathering during a protest by the Karnataka Congress leaders against the Centre, at Jantar Mantar, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar is also seen. (PTI)

New Delhi: Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, deputy chief minister D.K. Shivakumar and several other Congress ministers, MLAs and MPs from the state protested at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday against the “injustice” done to the state in the devolution of taxes and grants-in-aid over the past few years.

The Karnataka Congress politicians began gathering at Jantar Mantar around 10.30 am amid sloganeering and holding banners and placards that read “Our Sweat, Our Blood, Our Tax” and “We Demand Fair Share, Justice For Karnataka”. As Kannada songs blared from loudspeakers, Siddaramaiah addressed the gathering from 12 pm to 1 pm surrounded by Karnataka state flags.

The Congress alleged that "injustice" has been meted out to Karnataka in tax devolution and grants-in-aid over the past few years.

The protesters demanded that the Centre set right the losses to the tune of Rs 1.87-lakh crores allegedly incurred by Karnataka under the 15th Finance Commission. Siddaramaiah said this protest is not against the BJP but discrimination against Karnataka.

"We are raising the issue of discrimination meted out by the government of India to the state of Karnataka and other southern states," Siddaramaiah said while addressing the protesters, adding, “This is why I had written a letter to all the MPs of the BJP and the JD(S) asking them to participate in this agitation."

The Karnataka chief minister said that the 15th Finance Commission changed the formula used under the 14th Finance Commission to devolve taxes to the states, especially Karnataka, and called for reverting to the old formula to stop the loss of revenue for his state.

Mr Shivakumar, who also spoke during the protest, said, “Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is saying that the Central government doesn’t have any powers and it all depends upon the Finance Commission. It is an autonomous body, I agree. But the discrimination has to be set right. It is the duty of the government of India.”

Hitting back at the Congress, Ms Sitharaman said that the Karnataka government is wasting taxpayers' money on newspaper advertisements by making outrageously false claims. She said that the Karnataka government claims zero funds have been given as drought and disaster relief by the Central government. The fact is, combining both disaster management and capital investment, a total of Rs 12,476 crores has been given.”

Giving a point-by-point rebuttal to the Karnataka government claims, the Union finance minister accused the chief minister and his colleagues of spreading "false narrative".

"These claims come from a separatist mindset...The Congress is with those who want 'tukde tukde' of the country," Ms Sitharaman said, claiming that the Siddaramaiah government is feeling the heat due to the financial burden of nearly Rs 58,000 crore for the implementation of his party's poll promises.

“Karnataka's claims are full of "factual errors, false monetary claims, misleading statements and selective mention of certain losses allegedly suffered without mentioning the gains that have accrued to the state in the 15th Finance Commission period," the Centre asserted.

Also, several Karnataka BJP MPs addressed a press conference in the national capital on the allegation levelled by the Siddaramaiah government. Tejasvi Surya, a Lok Sabha member, accused the Karnataka chief minister of making baseless and false allegations as his government cannot fulfil unrealistic promises made during the Assembly polls.

It is not only Karnataka, but Kerala will also protest against the Centre's discrimination on Thursday. CPI(M) veteran and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his Cabinet colleagues, will stage a protest in Delhi against the Centre's alleged negligence towards the southern state on February 8.

Mr Vijayan said: "Kerala is poised for a historic protest in Delhi on Thursday. Ministers, legislators, and parliamentarians from the state will actively participate in this protest. We have had to resort to such an unprecedented struggle, as it is essential for Kerala’s survival and advancement."

The Kerala chief minister further added: "This agitation is intended to safeguard the constitutional rights of all states, not merely Kerala’s. The aim of this struggle is not to triumph over anyone but to secure what we rightfully deserve instead of surrendering. We believe that the entire country will stand with Kerala in support of this protest."

The BJP has dubbed this protest as passing on its failures to the Centre.

Tags: karnataka chief minister siddaramaiah, interim budget, south india, jantar mantar
Location: India, Delhi