Karnataka, Kerala to protest in Delhi against financial discrimination by the Union government
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah highlights the state's loss of tax share while Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan seeks to address economic discrimination
The Opposition-ruled states of Karnataka, Kerala are holding protests in Delhi over the Centre’s fiscal injustice meted out to them. The government of Tamil Nadu has also lent its support.
On Wednesday, 7 February the entire Karnataka cabinet led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, along with the state’s Congress MLAs and MLCs will be protesting at Jantar Mantar. They will be followed by Kerala CM and his council of ministers who will hold protests at Jantar Mantar on Thursday, 8 February. The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu has said it will join the protests.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, on Tuesday, 6 February, extended full support to his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan on preserving fiscal federalism. Accusing the Union government of restricting states’ borrowing space, Stalin said, it was misusing its powers under Article 293 of the Constitution. Stalin also assured that the DMK would take part in the protest. The states are demanding their rightful share of in the taxes.
The Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah government’s ‘Chalo Delhi’ protest is the first-ever by Karnataka against the fiscal policies of the Centre. “On 7 February, all ministers, MLAs of both Houses of the legislature, and MPs, will protest the injustice meted out to Karnataka by the 15th Finance Commission, and against several other issues concerning the state, including grants from the Centre,” said Siddaramaiah at a joint press conference with deputy chief minister and KPCC president DK Shivakumar.
According to Siddaramaiah, Karnataka’s share in the total tax devolution transferred by the Centre to states fell from 4.71 percent — as recommended by the 14th Finance Commission — to 3.64 percent, as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission. This, he added, resulted in a loss to the state of Rs 62,098 crore in taxes. The CM claimed that despite the Union Budget’s size doubling between 2016-17 and 2022-23, there had been no marked increase in grants allocated to Karnataka.
He has written to even the Union ministers from the state, including Pralhad Joshi and Nirmala Sitharaman, and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda, asking them to extend support to the state’s cause.
The 16th Finance Commission — the body which recommends changes to the tax devolution and grants formulae — has been formed and has to submit its report by October 2025.
The Kerala government has said its Thursday protest is meant to highlight the economic discrimination against Kerala. While the impact of this strategy is yet to be seen, the opposition Congress-led UDF in Kerala will not be participating in the protest. Opposition leader VD Satheeshan said while the UDF agrees that the Centre is neglecting Kerala, it also blames the inefficiency of the LDF government for the miseries of the people and the current financial crisis in the state.
The LDF representatives said the Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has sent a letter of solidarity for the protest, and they have invited Sharad Pawar (NCP), AAP's Arvind Kejriwal and others to join the dharna.
The Kerala Finance Minister, KN Balagopal, alleged that Kerala was deprived of ₹57,400 crore in Central transfers and loan approvals just this year. In a statement, CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan claimed that the move wasn't solely about Kerala's issues, but a representation of a broader concern shared by other non-BJP states.