All States neglected under Modi regime: Pinarayi Vijayan

Kerala Chief Minister denies the charge of creating a ‘north-south divide’, is hopeful that many leaders of the Opposition INDIA bloc would participate in the protest

Published - February 07, 2024 10:40 pm IST - New Delhi

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan addresses the media at Kerala House in New Delhi on February 7, 2024.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan addresses the media at Kerala House in New Delhi on February 7, 2024. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Denying the BJP’s argument that the protests by Opposition-ruled States against the Centre were politically motivated to create a “north-south” divide, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in New Delhi on February 7 that all States were suffering from the anti-federal attitude of the Centre. He said the BJP-ruled States would naturally not join the protests, but States such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Punjab and Delhi had voiced their concerns. Mr. Vijayan is in Delhi to participate in a protest against the Centre on February 8.

Addressing reporters at Kerala House in New Delhi, Mr. Vijayan said he had extended invitations to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and the Chief Ministers of all States not ruled by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He said he was hopeful that many of the leaders of the Opposition’s Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc would participate in the protests.

“All States are suffering. BJP-ruled States will not, naturally, participate in these protests. But all the other States are taking this seriously,” he said, adding that if every party came together, the BJP would be defeated.

Kerala Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal said the protest was not a “political drama”.

“States are facing arbitrary reduction from their revenue dues. It is not just an issue of southern States,” Mr. Balagopal said, adding that the State government would protest against this decrease in allocations legally and politically.

Mr. Vijayan said Ministers, legislators, and parliamentarians from the State would actively participate in the protest. “We have had to resort to such an unprecedented struggle as it is essential for Kerala’s survival and advancement. This agitation is intended to safeguard the Constitutional rights of all States, not merely Kerala’s. The aim of this struggle is not to triumph over anyone, but to secure what we rightfully deserve instead of surrendering. We believe that the entire country will stand with Kerala in support of this protest,” he said.

He said grants and similar allocations constituted less than 20% of the Finance Commission’s funding, with 80% coming from taxes. “Kerala’s share was reduced from 3.8% of the divisible pool during the 10th Finance Commission to 2.5% during the 14th Finance Commission. Subsequently, during the 15th Finance Commission, it was further brought down to 1.9%,” he said, associating himself with the protests by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on the issue.

Mr. Vijayan added that instead of supporting Kerala’s pursuit of further progress, the Centre was impeding its progress. “Despite urgent need for relief during floods and epidemics, they have neglected our requirements and even obstructed our efforts. Thursday’s strike is a protest against this heartless and unjust treatment,” he said, adding that a strong Centre alongside empowered States was crucial for upholding India’s unity and integrity.

“Kerala’s gathering in Delhi on Thursday marks a significant stride towards this overarching objective. In this regard, we earnestly seek the wholehearted support of all the advocates of democracy,” Mr. Vijayan said.

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