CM Siddaramaiah leads the demonstration at Jantar Mantar
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, along with his deputy DK Shivakumar and several other ministers and MLAs from the state, led a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. The protest, dubbed as ‘Chalo Delhi’, was against the Centre’s alleged ‘tax injustice’ and ‘financial discrimination’ towards Karnataka. The protesters demanded that the Centre rectify the losses incurred by the state under the 15th Finance Commission and release the pending drought relief funds.
Siddaramaiah said that the protest was not against the BJP, but against the unfair treatment of Karnataka by the central government. He said that Karnataka was the second highest contributor of taxes to the Centre, after Maharashtra, but received only a meagre share in return. He also accused the Centre of changing the formula used by the 14th Finance Commission, which resulted in a loss of revenue for the state. He urged the Centre to revert to the old formula and ensure a fair and equitable distribution of taxes among the states.
Karnataka Congress highlights the state’s economic contribution and grievances
The Karnataka Congress leaders highlighted the state’s economic contribution and grievances through placards, banners and slogans. They said that Karnataka contributed more than Rs 4.30 lakh crore as taxes to the Centre in the current financial year, but received only Rs 12-13 for every Rs 100 collected. They also said that the state suffered a loss of Rs 1.87 lakh crore under the 15th Finance Commission, which reduced the state’s share of taxes from 4.71% to 3.64%. They also claimed that the Centre owed the state Rs 11,000 crore as drought relief funds, which were not released despite repeated requests.
The protesters also pointed out the state’s achievements in various sectors, such as IT, biotechnology, education, health, agriculture and tourism. They said that Karnataka was the leader in IT exports, start-ups, innovation and R&D. They also said that the state had the highest number of engineering colleges, medical colleges and universities in the country. They said that the state had the best health indicators, such as infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate and life expectancy. They also said that the state had the largest area under organic farming and the most number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
BJP counters the protest with allegations of misgovernance and corruption
The BJP, which is the main opposition party in Karnataka, countered the protest with allegations of misgovernance and corruption against the Congress-led government in the state. The BJP leaders staged counter-protests in Karnataka and Delhi, accusing the Congress of indulging in ‘drama’ and ‘politics’ over the tax issue. They said that the Congress was trying to create a ‘North-South divide’ and divert the attention from its failures and scams.
The BJP leaders said that the Congress government in Karnataka had failed to utilise the funds allocated by the Centre for various schemes and projects. They said that the state had not spent the funds for PM Awas Yojana, PM Gram Sadak Yojana, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi and Ayushman Bharat. They also said that the state had not implemented the GST properly and had not paid the dues to the Centre. They also alleged that the state had witnessed several cases of corruption, nepotism and misuse of power by the Congress leaders, such as the I-Monetary Advisory (IMA) scam, the phone tapping scandal and the land denotification cases.