BENGALURU: In what could be a point of friction between state and Central governments, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is planning to take Congress MLAs, MLCs and MPs to New Delhi to protest against the BJP government on February 7.
The protest is against the Centre for depriving the state of its due share of taxes, the party said. Incidentally, the plan for protest has come at a time when Congress MP and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar’s brother DK Suresh has sought a separate nation for southern states, alleging that the allocation of funds for the state has come down.
The decision to protest was taken at a dinner hosted by Siddaramaiah to his cabinet colleagues at his residence on Thursday evening. The gathering also discussed the strategy for the Lok Sabha elections. “136 MLAs, MLCs and MP from the state, led by Siddaramaiah, will reach the national capital on February 6 evening and stage the protest on February 7 against the Centre’s injustice to the state,” said Shivakumar on Friday.
On opposition BJP seeking an apology from Suresh and even baying for his disqualification from Lok Sabha for his statement, Shivakumar defended his brother. “I was born an Indian and will die as an Indian. BJP is trying to politicise this. Suresh was only warning the Centre that such a situation may arise if the injustice continues towards Karnataka and other southern states. Congress is the one which has fought for the freedom of the country and continues to fight to keep it united,” he remarked.
“Karnataka has been getting a raw deal in the Union Budgets as it has lost a revenue of around Rs 62,000 crore in the last five years. We will draw the attention of the country through the protest,” he said.
‘Budgetary fund to K’taka down by 40-45%’
The state used to get a share of 4.71 per cent as per the 14th Finance Commission which has been reduced to 3.64 per cent in the 15th Finance Commission causing a big loss to the state, Shivakumar pointed out.
Despite Siddaramaiah meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, the Centre has not released even a paisa to the state to tackle drought. It also turned down the state’s request to increase the number of man-days under MGNREGA from 100 to 150, he said.
He urged legislators from opposition parties too to be part of the protest to seek justice for the state. “The size of the Union Budget was Rs 24.5 lakh crore in 2018-19 and it has doubled to Rs 45 lakh crore in 2023-24. But the state hasn’t benefited from this jump. The grants to Karnataka have only gone up a little, from Rs 46,000 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 50,000 crore in 2022-23,” he analysed.
Karnataka is one of the most-progressive states in the country with the second highest tax contribution to the country’s exchequer, but it got a raw deal in Thursday’s interim budget. Though 27 of the 28 MPs from Karnataka are from BJP, they haven’t been able to get justice for the state, he alleged.
“Budgetary allocations to Karnataka have come down by 40-45 per cent since 2018-19, increasing the debt burden on the state,” he said.
Kharge’s ‘400 paar’ jibe triggers uproar in Upper House
Congress chief and leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge prevailed upon the treasury benches in the Rajya Sabha on Friday with his satirical speech on the ruling BJP’s claim to win over 400 seats in the upcoming parliamentary polls. It all started when Union minister Piyush Goyal demanded an apology from the Congress for a controversial statement by party MP DK Suresh. Kharge stood up to comment the BJP claims to cross 400 seats.