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Delhi protest against Centre's injustice, not BJP says CM; FM slams 'politically-vitiated narrative'

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NewsDrum Desk
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Bengaluru/New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) The protest by the Karnataka Congress government in New Delhi on February 7 against the Centre is over the 'injustice' by the Union government regarding tax devolution to his State, and not against the BJP, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Monday.

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As the issue echoed in the Parliament, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said it is a "politically-vitiated narrative" that "vested interests" are happy to go about saying that the Centre was withholding funds meant for non-BJP governed states.

Listing out "injustice" caused to the state, the CM urged the opposition BJP to join the agitation in the interest of the state, as the struggle was not against the saffron party.

"On February 7, all the Ministers and all MLAs of both the Houses of the legislature, also MPs, are going to agitate against the Government of India for injustice caused to Karnataka state by the 15th Finance Commission and several other issues concerning the state including grants from the Centre," Siddaramaiah told a press conference here.

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He said the agitation would be held at Jantar Mantar in the national capital as he urged BJP MPs from the state to join the protest.

"The struggle is not between Congress and the BJP or against the BJP, it is against injustice caused to Karnataka state," Siddaramaiah added.

Pointing out that as per the 14th Finance Commission Karnataka got a share of about 4.71 percent of taxes, and 3.64 percent of taxes as per the 15th Finance Commission, the Chief Minister said, because of this the loss to the state is to the tune of Rs 62,098 crore in taxes.

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Further noting that the state government has submitted a memorandum to the Government of India regarding the severe drought situation in the state, Siddaramaiah said the crop loss is to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore. Karnataka has requested the Centre to release Rs 17,901 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), but has not received any relief so far.

"After we submitted the memorandum to the Government of India, the central team had come to Karnataka and visited the affected areas, and submitted a report to the Centre, but so far no meeting has been held by the Government of India to look into the report submitted by the central team. So far we have not received a single paisa from the Centre through NDRF," he said.

Stating that the opposition BJP has been making false allegations against the Government of Karnataka alleging it has not paid any relief towards crop compensation, Siddaramaiah said the state government has released Rs 2,000 as first installment to each of the affected farmers benefiting 34 lakh of them.

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"About Rs 650 crore has been released for this. In addition to that, more than Rs 800 crore are with Deputy Commissioners of districts to take up relief works, and to provide drinking water, fodder, and other necessities," he said.

Alleging that despite the opposition BJP having 27 MPs (including one independent and one from JDS) on its side, "they have not opened their mouth" either in the Parliament or with the government, the Chief Minister said, adding, the Ministers who are representing Karnataka in the NDA government have also not spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah about the state's concerns.

Meanwhile, in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said no Union finance minister can play with the Finance Commission's recommendations.

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Replying to a question by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Karnataka government's claim that the Centre is not releasing funds due to it, Sitharaman said such a situation cannot happen as the "system is well placed" and the central government works according to recommendations of the Finance Commission.

"This apprehension that some states are being discriminated against is a politically-vitiated narrative which, I am sorry to say, vested interests are happy to go about saying," she said during Question Hour.

"This is just not a possibility that any finance minister can intervene to say that 'I don't like this state, stop payment'. No way. It can't happen that way. The system is well placed," she said.

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Meanwhile, Karnataka BJP President B Y Vijayendra criticised the Congress government over the allegedly worsening financial situation in the state and accused the Siddaramaiah administration of shirking its responsibility while "unnecessarily" blaming the Centre for its woes.

Citing the drought in the state, Vijayendra demanded Siddaramaiah, who holds charge of the finance ministry, immediately release the dues to the distressed dairy farmers.

"Is it not the responsibility of the state government to come to the rescue of the farmers during drought," he asked, slamming the Congress leaders for "trying to escape" from their responsibility by "unnecessarily blaming the Central government and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji on every occasion". PTI KSU RS ACB SZM ANE SA

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