Karnataka Congress netas slam Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

“I think Sitharaman is unaware of the pathetic state of affairs of her party in the south where it is beyond the fringe."
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala SitharamanFile photo

BENGALURU: Karnataka Congress leaders have slammed Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her remarks that Congress has been reduced to a fringe party and terming the argument that states contributing more to the tax pool are getting only a fraction of that in return from the Centre as “separatist kinds of arguments”.

“I think Sitharaman is unaware of the pathetic state of affairs of her party in the south where it is beyond the fringe. If she turns the pages of recent history, she will learn that nowhere the party has been able to get a proper mandate, except in a couple of states where there is only a manufactured mandate, but not won democratically. Maharashtra being a classic case and previously Karnataka,” RDPR Minister Priyank Kharge told TNIE.

He was responding to Sitharaman’s remarks in an exclusive interview with TNIE. He suggested to her that southern states are not seeking funds proportionately (the tax paid to the central pool), but questioned the disproportionate amount going to other states.

“For every Rs 100 tax paid, Rs 922 goes to Bihar, Rs 333 to UP and for us only Rs 13. What we are requesting is that devolution should be done a little more fairly because we are the ones who are creating infrastructure, employment and getting people out of poverty. We are willing to share with other states in a federal structure.”

Cong netas slam Nirmala, say K’taka forced to move SC for aid

The issue is if Rs 13 is justified for a progressive state like Karnataka by depriving a fair share of funds, they (Centre) are pushing us into becoming Bhimaru states,” he said.

“Anything that doesn’t suit BJP or RSS ideology, they call it separatist, urban naxals and ‘tukde tukde’ gang. These are the languages spoken by the Union government. They have been in power for 10 years, if at all there were separatist voices why have they not been able to control them?,” he said, adding that those who raise their voice against the Centre and seek justice are termed separatists.

He said Congress and DMK are equal partners and the former plays no second fiddle to the latter as Sitharaman claimed. “The BJP, which had an alliance with AIADMK, was eventually ignored. If it did not have CBI, IT, ED and certain media on its side, it would have been nowhere in the country,” he said.

On Sitharaman’s claim that the state is politicising issues such as devolution of funds and non-release of aid to tackle drought by moving the Supreme Court,  which are non-issues, Kharge said, “Obviously, they are not issues at all for her because it’s her mistake. Will the Centre accept its mistake? The SC stated that why should the states approach it for their due share? That itself shows that the Centre is on the backfoot. Sitaraman is wrong.”

“Karnataka moved the Supreme Court after pursuing the matter relentlessly with the Centre for seven months. We met all officers concerned, the FM, HM and PM, but did not get any positive response,” Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said.

As the state had fulfilled all requirements, the Centre called Karnataka’s “drought declaration” as an exemplary method to be replicated by other states. “We should have got relief in November as per the rules of the Centre. But the BJP government ignored the needs of farmers of the state. As the last resort, we sought the intervention of SC to get our rightful share,” he said.

“When Narendra Modiji as CM demanded that all tax money of Gujarat be returned to Gujarat, was he not a separatist? We are demanding our fair share. By suppressing the needs of Karnataka, the BJP government is insulting the people of Karnataka and weakening federalism. Instead of insulting and name-calling, the Centre must talk to states, understand their issues and offer solutions. This would strengthen the union. BJP’s assault on states weakens the union,” he said.

KPCC media cell chairman and former MLC Ramesh Babu said, calling Congress a fringe party is a reflection of Sitharaman’s state of mind.

“Karnataka is not getting funds from NDRF to tackle drought and also its tax share. It is sad that Nirmala did not raise her voice for Karnataka. She might have forgotten that she represents Kannadigas in the RS. Let people of the state decide. Let them teach her and BJP a lesson in the LS elections,” said KPCC women’s wing president Puspa Amarnath.

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