BENGALURU: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has raised the pitch to assert regional identity by presenting a strong argument for Karnataka having its own flag. The Chief Minister has triggered a national debate on the spirit of federalism by seeking greater say for states in framing national policies and greater flexibility in implementing programmes funded by the Union government.
Siddaramaiah took to social media to articulate his view and on his Facebook page, has urged the Union government to include the Karnataka flag in the schedule of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1950.
Dispelling the apprehension that it could strengthen the feelings of separatism, Siddaramaiah has said, " I don’t think the demands for greater federal autonomy and recognition of regional identity are inconsistent with our nation. Karnataka prides in Kannada identity. The oldest written document (in stone) in Kannada found at Halmidi, Hassan District, dates back to 2nd century AD. The oldest Kannada kingdom under the Kadamabas of Banvasi ruled the state during the 4th century AD. We have been using a red and yellow flag since decades. Yet, Karnataka, as our poet laureate Kuvempu said, is the daughter of Bharata, the Indian nation (Jaya Bharatha Jananiya Tanujathe)."
Citing the fact that the states are organised on linguistic basis, he said, "Many of the languages and cultures of the states pre-date the Indian identity. Yet, we Indians are bound by a common history, common civilization, and a common destiny. My identity as a proud Kannadiga is not inconsistent with my identity as a proud Indian.
So, in Karnataka when we speak about primacy to Kannada, argue against imposition of Hindi language, or call for adoption of a state flag, we are confident we are contributing to building of a strong India; for, a confident Indian nation is confident about the individuality of all her daughters(states)."
Siddaramaiah has in a subtle way countered Prime Minister Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah's recent attacks claiming to have given huge central grants for Karnataka. They had also asked Siddaramaiah to account for the grants.
"Let me raise certain issues of federalism that affect us on a day-to-day basis. Relatively well-developed states like Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra contribute more to central taxes than what they get in return from the centre. What we get from the centre comes in the form of state’s share in devolution of central taxes and grants under centrally-sponsored schemes.
The grants under centrally-sponsored schemes come with strings attached. Schemes are designed keeping the entire country in mind and we are forced to implement them and provide our share. We need a system where states receive larger portion of the taxes collected from our states and the share of centrally-sponsored schemes must go down. The central schemes, if at all needed, need to be flexible so that we can tailor them to our needs," Siddaramaiah has argued.
‘States should be free to grow’
“Karnataka is bigger than many nations in Europe. For India to grow stronger her states need to grow and prosper. We are today in a position to set the states free to grow as per their capacity and their genius, without being nervous about any imagined threat from assertion of their identity. The states need greater autonomy to run their economic polices, borrow internationally as long as they convince the lenders of their creditworthiness, build the infrastructure of their choice without depending too much for licenses from the centre, and design programs of their choice,” Siddaramaiah has said.
CM defers meet on Cauvery verdict to March 22
Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has deferred his meeting with the state MPs scheduled on Friday to discuss the Supreme Court verdict on sharing of Cauvery waters. The meeting will now be held on March 22. Speaking to reporters in Delhi, Siddaramaiah said the meeting had been postponed to March 22 as many MPs were unavailable. He assured that the state will decide its future course of action after consulting the legal team headed by Fali S Nariman. Many Congress MPs are busy attending the AICC plenary session being held in New Delhi.