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PM Modi has delivered 'confrontational federalism': Congress slams Centre over drought relief issue

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New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) The Congress on Thursday termed as an "outright lie" the Centre's claims that the delay in releasing drought funds to Karnataka was because the state dispensation had submitted the proposal three months late, as it accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of indulging in "confrontational federalism".

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Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said eight months after this issue was first raised, the Modi government is now fabricating stories to defend its inaction.

"The prime minister started off his innings in May 2014 talking big about cooperative federalism. Instead, what he has delivered is confrontational federalism. Cooperative federalism is based on consensus, for which the prime minister has demonstrated a singular unwillingness and incapacity," Ramesh alleged.

"In contrast, confrontational federalism is based on creating conflict and division, which is the core skill of the prime minister and his home minister -- as evinced by the home minister's most recent claim," he said.

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Ramesh said 223 of Karnataka's 236 taluks are grappling with the effects of drought, with 123 experiencing severe drought conditions.

"Karnataka needs Rs 17,900 crore as compensation, and farmers have lost crops worth Rs 35,000 crore. Not a single rupee has been released by the Centre to address this critical situation till date," he said.

"Home Minister Amit Shah now claims that the delay in releasing drought funds was because the state government had submitted the proposal three months late. This is an outright lie: the Karnataka government submitted a proposal for drought relief on September 22, 2023," he said.

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A 10-member central study team visited Karnataka between October 5 and 9 to evaluate the drought situation and submitted a report on October 20, he said.

The Karnataka government followed up with supplementary memorandums in October and November, and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah personally met the prime minister on December 19 and Home Minister Amit Shah on December 20 to take up the issue, he pointed out.

"Eight months after this issue was first raised, the Modi government is now fabricating stories to defend its inaction," he said.

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Ramesh said that this is, in fact, the second major example of discrimination against the Kannadigas for comprehensively rejecting the prime minister and his party in May.

"Earlier, he had tried to derail the Anna Bhagya scheme by getting the Food Corporation of India to stop the sale of rice to the Karnataka government -- even at market rates, which the Karnataka government was prepared to pay. The government of Karnataka was smarter; it is now paying out the cash equivalent of 5 kgs of rice per person to every eligible NFSA (National Food Security Act) family," Ramesh said.

He also tagged a post in Kannada by Siddaramaiah in which the chief minister had challenged Shah over his claims on drought relief.

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Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said he would quit his post as chief minister if it was proven that there was a delay on the part of his government in submission of a proposal to the Centre seeking drought relief, dismissing the charge made by the Shah.

Addressing party workers and leaders in Bengaluru on Tuesday, Shah said there is drought in Karnataka, and the state government was late by three months in sending a proposal to the Centre and "today, the application for drought relief from the Centre is with the Election Commission".

"They (Congress government) are doing politics over it now," Shah had said.

Responding to the claims, Siddaramaiah accused Shah of "lying" and wondered whether the Union minister would also resign if it was proven so. PTI ASK ASK SZM

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