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Updated February 7th, 2024 at 11:42 IST

It's controversial/ Karnataka Congress' Divisive Plan: Mobilise South Against Delhi, New Economic Alliance, 'South Tax'

Congress's Karnataka unit under CM Siddaramaiah announced that they will hold a protest in Delhi on February 7 over South Tax Movement

Reported by: Srinwanti Das
CM Siddaramaiah
CM Siddaramaiah claimed that the taxes paid by Kannadigas were not useful for the state's difficult times | Image:PTI
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Bengaluru: After Congress leader DK Suresh's 'separate country' call, the Congress party in Karnataka is raising its pitch for separate 'South Tax', a bid likely to pose a new challenge to India's taxation system. The Karnataka Congress' divisive pitch is being seen as a political movement to polarise the South against the Central government in Delhi.

The move is being projected as an alleged injustice to Karnataka by the Central government with reduction in tax devolution, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said this has resulted in a loss of over Rs 45,000 crore to the state in the last four years.

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Karnataka Congress has planned a protest in Delhi on February 7.

Alleging that the tax paid by the people of Karnataka, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has stoked a fresh controversy on divisive lines. Alleging injustice to Karnataka by the Central government on the basis of tax allocation, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said this has led to a loss of over Rs 45,000 crore to the state in the last four years. He also claimed that the taxes paid by Kannadigas were not useful for the state's difficult times, and the money was going to northern states, calling for a ‘#SouthTaxMovement’.

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Siddaramaiah Calls for Separate South Forum

"Karnataka has faced significant challenges with a reduced tax devolution share post the 15th Finance Commission, resulting in a loss of over Rs 45,000 crore in the last 4 years. This injustice cannot stand," Siddaramaiah said on Sunday.

"We stand united in demanding fair treatment and justice for Kannadigas to secure our state's welfare," he said in a post on 'X' with the hashtag "#SouthTaxMovement".

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Days after Congress MP DK Suresh stoked a controversy with his statement "nationhood for south India" remark, like-minded parties from the South have tabled a proposal to form a forum of southern states to ensure equitable distribution of resources from the Centre, including individual tax share from the divisible pool.

Basavaraj Rayareddi, economic advisor to Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, said the proposal to form an "Economic Alliance of Southern States" was already on the table for discussion, and the stakeholders wanted Karnataka to take the initiative.

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"The objective of the proposed forum is in line with the idea of federalism, where all states are assured of equitable rights and opportunities. The southern states need a powerful platform since their voices are not being heard," said Rayareddi. 

A similar proposal was made in 2018 by Kerala govt, coinciding with Siddaramaiah's previous tenure as CM. 

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The Karnataka CM had then complained about the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission over tax devolution being unfair. Kerala's then finance minister, TM Thomas Isaac, called for a meeting of his counterparts in other southern states that year to take a unified stand on the issue. The idea didn't take off as the Karnataka assembly polls were announced before the stakeholders could take a concrete step.

Commenting on the matter, Magadi MLA HC Balakrishna said in Ramnagar, “We are the second highest tax paying state. BJP's MPs were not men, they were showpieces. Let's see our struggle and see if the men of BJP will fight.” Allegedly indulging in blackmail politics, HC Balakrishna had recently warned of stopping the Karnataka government's guarantee programmes, in case the party fails to win maximum number of seats in the state in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

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Key Points of the Congress Karnataka Protest

  • Congress will protests in Delhi over allegedly disproportionate central grant to southern states
  • Like-minded parties from the South have tabled a proposal to form a forum of southern states to ensure equitable distribution of resources from the Centre
  • Karnataka Congress has demanded individual tax share from the divisible pool
  • The Karnataka CM had then complained about the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission over tax devolution being unfair

Protest in Delhi on February 7

The concept of a southern forum is gaining momentum afresh, particularly against the backdrop of Congress's Karnataka unit announcing a protest in Delhi on February 7. This will be followed by the governing parties of Kerala and Telangana holding similar programmes on subsequent days in the national capital.

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Thanking the people of the state who have raised their voice for justice, Siddaramaiah said, "I am with you, if all our voices are united, it will be heard till Delhi."

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Published February 5th, 2024 at 13:15 IST

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