Kerala CM leads protest in Delhi for state's tax share, joined by other CMs, parties

No responsible government that sees development and welfare as people's genuine rights can name and shame its own citizens: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan

The gathering in Delhi (photo: @pinarayivijayan/X)
The gathering in Delhi (photo: @pinarayivijayan/X)

Ashlin Mathew

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan led a delegation of Left Democratic Front MLAs, MPs and senior leaders at a visually striking red and white covered sit-in protest march at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday to demand the state’s share of taxes.

He was joined by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab Chief minister Bhagwat Mann, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, DMK leaders Tiruchi Siva and Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan, SP MP Kapil Sibal along with Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja.

At the protest, Vijayan highlighted that the allocation of the states has reduced considerably. “States are being made to cover 65 per cent of its expenses and the Union government gives just 35 percent, but the revenue sharing is in the reverse. Over the years, the Union has been making laws that encroach upon the states' powers and duties in several sectors, even on law and order,” stressed Vijayan.

During the 10th Finance Commission, Kerala’s share was 3.87 per cent, in the 14th Finance Commission it became to 2.5 per cent, pointed out Vijayan, and in the 15th Finance Commission, Kerala’s share dropped to 1.9 percent.

Despite the Union having a lower share than the states in many central schemes, they are keen to brand them. “They even go to the extent of saying that funds will not be issued if there is no branding. Branding is essentially labeling. By doing so, the self-worth of the beneficiaries of such schemes is being questioned. No responsible government that sees development and welfare as people's genuine rights can name and shame its own citizens,” explained Vijayan.

Citing an example, Vijayan said in the Kerala's LIFE Mission, so far 3,74,508 houses have been built under it and a total of Rs 17,104.87 crore has been spent for it. The Union's share in it is merely Rs 2,081.69 crore, a paltry 12.17 per cent. Even in this project, the union government is adamant that they should be named. If not, they say that they will withhold even their miniscule share.

“Just because the Union demands that their name board should be kept, let's not be under any illusion that this project is their benevolence. To put such a mark, amounts to an insult on the self-esteem of the concerned family. We would like to make it very clear that the state of Kerala will in no way allow it to happen,” underscored Vijayan.

The Union's revenue earned through Cess and Surcharge has risen considerably. “There has been a rise of 133 per cent in collection of major Cess and Surcharge levied by the Union Government on various products between 2017-18 and 2022-23. It went up from Rs 2,18,553 crore to Rs 5,10,549 crore during that five-year period. Despite amassing all this revenue, not a single penny from it is shared with the states,” added Vijayan.

Former Tamil Nadu finance minister Thiaga Rajan said not getting an equal share of the taxes was unfair and unjust deprivation for the state. “The union government won’t give us taxes, hold us to fiscal deficit of 3 per cent, while the union government’s fiscal deficit is around 5 percent and they will not allow state ministers to travel abroad to get foreign investments,” added Thiagarajan, while quipping that even their rival and earlier BJP ally AIADMK chief Jayalalitha supported federalism.

Criticising the union government, Vijayan underscored that over the years, the Union has been making laws that encroach upon the States' powers and duties in several sectors, even on law and order, which is absolutely in the States List in the Constitution.

Taking a potshot at the Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Vijyan said he takes orders from the union government. “He has time to sit on the road to create a scene, but he had no time to read the budget speech,” added Vijayan.

Slamming the union government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal said there are Opposition governments in half the states of the country. “Does the PM not consider people of these states as its own?” questioned the Delhi Chief Minister.

The union government has withheld Rs 8,400 crore from Kerala, Rs 8,000 crore from Punjab and the Punjab had to go to the Supreme Court to get Rs 5,500 crore from the Centre under the Rural Development Fund.

“The Chief Minister of Kerala had to leave all his work in the state and come to Delhi to protest the excesses of the Central Government. The country had to see this too where a chief minister of Kerala has to sit in protest for the people of his state,” added Kejriwal.

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