Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday slammed the politics over the “north-south fund fight”. Once again citing the “dangerous example” of a so-called Centre-state divide, he said this kind of a narrative was “divisive”.
“Divisive politics over government funds is dangerous. State politics on national resources is dangerous. We cannot see state funds in a narrow prism,” the prime minister said during the debate on the Motion of Thanks in the Rajya Sabha.
“Humara tax, humara money; ye kaisi bhasha boli ja rahi hai? (Our tax, our money. What kind of language is this?)” he asked, taking on the opposition and giving a point-by-point counter.
Prime Minister Modi accused the Congress of trying to divide the country over funds. But, he said, during times such as Covid, the Centre and states have worked together.
“Mera desh Bangalore, Chennai, Telangana, Puri sab jagah hai. I don’t discriminate against states,” he added.
In fact, the PM went on to talk about how the UPA government, led by the Congress, would stifle funds for Gujarat when he was the chief minister. In his scathing attack on the grand old party, he alleged that the opposition party has become outdated.
Modi said the Congress has “outsourced” its work and expressed his sympathies over its downfall. “The Congress’ thought has become outdated and it has outsourced its work. We are not happy at such a downfall of the party and we express our sympathies,” he said.
He further said President Droupadi Murmu, in her address in Parliament, talked about solving the problems of the four largest sections of society – the poor, farmers, the youth and women.
“The Congress strangled democracy for power and dismissed democratically elected governments. The Congress has been against Dalits, backwards, tribals and had it not been for Babasaheb Ambedkar, they would not have got any reservation,” he added.
The Karnataka government is up in arms against the Centre for reduced share in the tax revenue pie, which, chief minister Siddaramaiah claimed, has resulted in a loss of over Rs 45,000 crore to the state in the last four years.
The chief minister also brought in the “north-south divide” debate to highlight how the Centre is being generous to the northern states in the budget, while “injustice” was being done to Karnataka in tax devolution.
Earlier on Wednesday, Siddaramaiah, along with his deputy DK Shivakumar and other Congress MPs and MLAs from the state, staged the ‘Chalo Delhi’ protest alleging “injustice” to the state in tax devolution and grants-in-aid over the past few years.
“We expect the government will listen to our protest and our main intention is to protect the interest of the state and Kannadigas,” Siddaramaiah said.
“Karnataka is the second biggest state giving the highest revenue to this country. We are asking for our rights, we are asking for our share. We have come here to show that we all are fighting here for the people of Karnataka,” Shivakumar said.
In Bengaluru, meanwhile, a clash broke out between the police and BJP leaders outside the Vidhan Soudha. Sources said the police used water cannons on BJP workers as they tried to lock the CM’s office. The protesters were later detained.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan also arrived in Delhi over a similar issue, alleging “injustice” and “stepmotherly treatment” against his state in the interim budget for 2024-25. Calling Karnataka’s protest a move to highlight the disparity in financial disbursement between northern and southern states, he said his government will also launch its protest a day later.
Shivakumar has said the planned protest is not against the BJP and all MLAs should forget party lines and take part in it. “The entire government will protest, all MLAs should forget party lines and participate. We all have to fight together for the good of the state. We are in a union system. We have been cooperating with the central government, but we continue to be treated unfairly by the Centre. We didn’t get proper relief even during Covid, we didn’t get grants even during heavy rains. Rs 5,300 crore was not given for the Bhadra Meldande project. This is not a protest against BJP. Instead, it is a protest against the discriminatory attitude in financial distribution and drought relief,” he added.
The Karnataka government has also claimed that out of the 61 projects that the Centre promised for the state under 23 ministries, funds have not been released for even a single one. The government had said in the last budget that it will release funds for the suburban rail, peripheral ring road in Bengaluru, and Rs 5,300 crore for the Upper Krishna project. “We have not seen a penny,” said Congress chief spokesperson Natraj Gowda.
(With PTI inputs)