Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who has been projecting regional pride as a poll plank, on Friday put out a Facebook post vociferously arguing for greater autonomy for States in policymaking and the right of States to have markers of identity such as their own flag.
With India transforming from union of States into a federation of States, the Chief Minister said, “The States need greater autonomy to run their economic polices, borrow internationally as long as they convince the lenders of their creditworthiness, build the infrastructure of their choice without depending too much for licences from the Center, and design programmes of their choice.”
Defending the decision to own a State flag, in his Facebook post, Mr. Siddaramaiah said, “My identity as a proud Kannadiga is not inconsistent with my identity as a proud Indian. In Karnataka, when we speak about primacy to Kannada, argue against imposition of Hindi language, or call for adoption of a State flag, we are confident we are contributing to building of a strong India; for, a confident nation is confident about the individuality of all her daughters.”
Devolution of funds
Seeking transparency in the devolution of funds, Mr. Siddaramaiah said reforming States such as Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra contribute more to the Central taxes than what they get in return from the Center. Moreover, the grants under Centrally sponsored schemes come with strings attached.
“Schemes are designed keeping the entire country in mind and we are forced to implement them and provide our share.” Citing an example, the Chief Minister said for every one rupee of tax contributed, Uttar Pradesh receives ₹1.79, while Karnataka receives 47 paise.
Noting the need for correcting regional imbalances, he said southern States have nearly reached replacement levels of population growth. “Yet, population is a prominent criteria for devolution of the Central taxes. For how long can we keep incentivising population growth?” Mr. Siddaramaiah asked.
‘Greater say needed’
On the lines of the GST Council, the CM said the States needed a standing mechanism for discussing trade policy and agrarian issues so that States have a better say in framing policies affecting farmers. The NITI Aayog has effectively dismantled the erstwhile National Development Council (NDC). With no effective consultative mechanism replaced the NDC, the Chief Minister said States urgently needed a mechanism where they get a greater say in making of the nation’s policies.