Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda announced that he will be representing the state at a meeting called by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in Thiruvananthapuram on April 10 over the 15th Finance Commission.
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had called for a meeting of his counterparts from the southern states to deliberate on the issue.
The 15th Finance Commission is a body that determines how much tax money collected by the Centre is allocated to various states in the country.
The reason why south Indian states are opposing the Commission is because the Terms of Reference has recommended using the 2011 Census to calculate the population as against the 1971 Census, which was used by previous commissions.
Southern states, which have controlled their population over the years, argue that changing the baseline will affect them.
Byre Gowda represents the state at the GST council too even though CM Siddaramaiah holds the Finance portfolio. Siddarmaiah too had earlier spoken on the issue.
Addressing reportes, Byre Gowda called the Terms of Reference as "an unilateral decision" by the Centre that goes against federal co-operative structure of the country.
"The 15th FC unfortunately disincetivises the progressive states which have worked hard to implement the national schemes. We are demanding that the Centre makes changes in the Terms of Reference," Byre Gowda said at a press conference in Bengaluru.
"The Terms of Reference includes provision for incentivising efforts to bring down population growth to 2.1. Though on the face of it looks like a progressive measure, this provision excludes states that have already brought population rate down. So all the progressive states had gone ahead in using their own resources in order to achieve this national goal. Progressive states are punished for doing right things and delivering national duty," he said.
Byre Gowda however, clarified that this opposition was not ‘sub-nationalistic’.
"We are true nationalists through our deed and not merely by our words. Reducing the population was the national objective.”
He reiterated, "We are not against helping out our poor brothers, Karnataka stands for social equity. We are only saying do not disincentivise us for our good work and fiscal prudence."
"We believe for a stronger India, we need a stronger Karnataka, a stronger Gujarat.....every state has to strong.. we want to ensure that the concerns of the progressive states are also taken care of."
Even TN opposition leader MK Stalin had written to FInance Ministers of 10 states ruled by non-BJP governments on the issue asking for “equitable and just devolution of central tax revenues to the states”.
Other than Stalin, many leaders including former Union Minister and MP Shashi Tharoor have spoken on the issue.
'BJP does not take care about South'
"Speaking supposedly, it can be inferred that since BJP has no stakes in southern states. Other than Karnataka, where also they realise they are on the losing side. We have seen that with Andhra Pradesh how a promise made in the Parliament was denied to them," he claimed.
"If you add all these things together. it seems the BJP is perhaps more interested in safeguarding their Hindi heartland than in nurturing the growth engine that is sourthern India," he added.