Karnataka Congress Protest: Addressing Controversies and Economic Alliances in Southern States
In a recent turn of events, Congress MP DK Suresh stirred controversy by advocating for a separate nation for southern states. The statement reached the parliament, prompting Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge to assert that the party does not endorse any notion of breaking the country. Suresh, who is the brother of Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, clarified that his statement was misrepresented. While leaders in Tamil Nadu have previously expressed similar sentiments, this is the first time such a situation has unfolded in Karnataka.
Tax Disparities and Congress Initiatives
Amidst allegations of ‘injustice’ in tax distribution, Karnataka’s Congress leaders are rallying to unite southern states against the perceived economic disparity.
Karnataka Takes the Lead
The Congress, along with like-minded parties, is contemplating the formation of a forum for southern states. The initiative aims to ensure equitable distribution of funds from the center. Chief Economic Advisor to Karnataka, Basavaraj Rayareddy, is at the forefront of this proposal. He emphasizes the need for an ‘Economic Coalition of Southern States’ to strengthen federal structures while guaranteeing fair revenue sharing.
Rayareddy asserts that the proposed forum aligns with federal principles, offering equal rights and opportunities to all states. He emphasizes the necessity of a powerful platform for southern states, asserting that their voices currently go unheard. A similar proposal was made in 2018 by the Kerala government when Siddaramaiah was the Chief Minister of Karnataka. However, discussions on this proposal were halted due to impending state elections.
Who is Basavaraj Rayareddy?
Although Rayareddy has been a minister, this time, he missed the chance to become the Chief Minister when internal dissent within the party surfaced. He has been vocal about internal issues and corruption within the government. In December, the Karnataka Chief Minister appointed Congress MLA Basavaraj Rayareddy as the Cabinet’s Economic Advisor, recognizing his financial acumen.
Challenges in Implementing Guarantees
Rayareddy recently acknowledged the challenges in implementing five electoral guarantees promised by the Congress government. He conceded that these guarantees, totaling a staggering 58,000 crores, have strained the state’s finances. To address this, the government is contemplating modifications to these schemes to ease the burden on the state exchequer.
Financial Support from the Center
In his capacity as an economic advisor, Rayareddy is exploring the possibility of securing funds from both state and central sources to fulfill these guarantees. The Congress government in Karnataka has promised free electricity up to 200 units, monthly allowances ranging from 1500 to 3000 rupees for the unemployed, and stipends for every woman in the state.
However, BJP’s state president B. Y. Vijayendra has dismissed these guarantees as ‘illusory,’ asserting that people recognize Prime Minister Modi’s assurances as the most reliable.
Southern Parties Converge in Delhi
As discussions on the Southern States Forum gain momentum, Karnataka Congress is gearing up for a protest in Delhi on February 7 against the interim budget. The protest aims to draw attention to Karnataka’s grievances regarding financial injustice and assistance. Similar endeavors are expected from ruling parties in Kerala and Telangana.
DK Shivakumar’s Call to Action
Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar emphasizes the necessity of raising their voices, offering an invitation to BJP and JD(S) leaders to join the Delhi protest. Shivakumar accuses the central government of ‘injustice’ in terms of revenue sharing and support.
The Karnataka Congress’s call for a united front among southern states reflects the growing discontent with perceived economic disparities. As the political landscape evolves, the proposed forum’s success hinges on overcoming internal dissent and garnering support from other regional parties. The Delhi protest on February 7 is poised to be a significant platform for southern states to voice their concerns on a national stage.