Both Pinarayi Vijayan and MK Stalin lambasted the BJP-led NDA government during a seminar organised by the CPI(M) as part of its 23rd Party Congress.

Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan at a seminar organised by the CPI(M) as part of its 23rd Party CongressMK Stalin and Pinarayi Vijayan at a seminar organised by CPI(M) as part of its 23rd Party Congress
news Politics Sunday, April 10, 2022 - 10:36

A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that people of different states should communicate with each other in Hindi rather than English, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin spoke in Malayalam at a seminar organised by the Kerala CPI(M). Stalin called upon states to fight for their autonomy and for a strong connection to be formed between parties with common thinking. The seminar 'Centre-State Relations' was held on Saturday, April 9, in Kannur, on the fourth day of the 23rd Party Congress of the CPI(M). 

Stalin addressed his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan, who was another speaker at the seminar, as his ‘comrade.’ 

“It was in 1959 in Kerala that for the first time a democratic government was brought down using Article 356 (President’s Rule). In Tamil Nadu, too, it happened twice — in 1976 and 1991,” Stalin said, adding that both Kerala and Tamil Nadu have the right to talk about the Union-State relations. "We are not putting forth a call to save Tamil Nadu or Kerala, but to save India, the states should be saved first. Only if the states are saved, India can be saved," he added. 

A massive crowd attended the seminar held at Jawahar Stadium (AKG Nagar). The party Congress began on April 6 in Kannur, the party’s fortress, and will conclude on Sunday, April 10.

"There is a need for a strong connection to be formed between parties with common thinking. Victory is only possible if such parties join together. Only if that victory can ensure social justice, equality, and secularism will be upheld. For such a victory, I am humbly requesting all parties to take proper steps now itself. Let's fight for states' autonomy. Let us create a truly federal India," Stalin added, addressing the crowd. 

"India has many religions, languages, races, cultures, habits, dress, and food. Despite this diversity, we are unified. Unity in diversity is our culture. But attempts are being made to erase this diversity and bring monotony. One country. One election. One food. One exam. One education. One religion. One culture. One language. One tradition. If this goes on, India will have one party and then one person. There is nothing more dangerous than that. BJP can rejoice until it becomes one party. But when it comes to one person, BJP should also join us in opposing it,” he said.

Stalin, while mostly speaking in Tamil, switched to Malayalam in the middle of his speech. "Those who crafted our Constitution did not make a government with a singularity. The powers were separated into Union List, State List, and Concurrent List.  After the Panchayat Raj Law was brought in, panchayats were given power. The Union government is trying to destroy villages and states — it is against the Constitution. The Union government is crossing its limits beyond the power given to it by the Constitution," Stalin said. 

Pinarayi Vijayan has called for restructuring Centre-State relations in such a way that states' characters and rights are preserved. Pinarayi put forward an 11-point suggestion in this direction. He said that misuse of central investigation agencies for political purposes of the Union government, especially against the States, should be put an end to.

Speaking at the event, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi suggested that the states should not be penalised for making advancements in various sectors. “Funds for such sectors should be allowed to be utilised in other sectors or in tailor-made projects to further excel in those very same sectors. Central funds are linked to their schemes and policies. State governments should not be forced to follow the Centre's policies when they have been voted in by the people to pursue alternative policies. The Centre should enter into agreements on subjects that affect the States only after consulting with the concerned States beforehand,” Pinarayi said.

He also called for the restructuring of the Governors’ powers and sought a solution for revenue loss due to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“Governors' powers should be restructured in such a way that Centre-State relations become efficient. The situation in which the Centre collects taxes, without having to share them adequately with the states, should change. Taxes in the divisible pool are shrinking year after year. This affects the states' revenues and hence, should change. The Revenue Deficit Grants are reducing. A solution to this is required. Revenue loss due to the implementation of GST should continue to be made up for, beyond the present 5-year ceiling. Borrowing limit of states should be enhanced,” Pinarayi said.

Pinarayi accused the Congress of not being ready to fight for what rightfully belongs to the states. “As far as Kerala is concerned, United Democratic Front (UDF) MPs are not inclined to raise any of Kerala's developmental issues in the Parliament. As a proponent of neoliberal policies, the Congress was not interested in democratising Centre-State relations. Instead, Congress introduced VAT (Value Added Tax), sidelining states' demands for more taxation powers,” he said.

Hitting out at the BJP, Pinarayi said that the past few years show that the BJP is not interested in democratising relations between the Union government and the states in India. 

“BJP has been aggressively pursuing the policies initiated by the Congress. Democratising Centre-State relations is not on their agenda and each initiative of theirs has further deteriorated Centre-State relations. Interventions in Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep are pointers to the same. By bifurcating and dismembering J&K, its constitutional right accorded through Article 370 has been violated. Lakshadweep's unique features have been overlooked while taking unilateral decisions about it,” Pinarayi said.

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