Why should Rajasthan, MP, Chattisgarh vote for Congress that thinks these states are free riding on taxes from South India?

Siddaramiah is one of the few Congress CMs left in the current political scenario. There is tremendous pressure on him and the party to retain the state of Karnataka in upcoming polls. In order to do so, the CM is using all possible tactics to ensure that he has an upper hand. Divisive agenda has been continuously pursued to rake up fault lines in the society.

The issue of an official state flag, ‘Hindi imposition’ and a encouragement for a separate religion status for Lingayats are some examples. In addition to this, the CM in an article has questioned the rationale of devolution of taxes to poorer states in North India.

In his article titled ‘Developed south is subsidising populated north ‘, the Chief Minister claims that the southern states have not been given adequate autonomy to spend funds collected in their own state. He specifically raises the issue of population in his article. He writes (emphasis added) :

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Historically, the South has been subsidizing the north. Six states south of the Vindhyas contribute more taxes and get less. For example, for every one rupee of tax contributed by Uttar Pradesh that state receives Rs 1.79. For every one rupee of tax contributed by Karnataka, the state receives Rs 0.47. While I recognize the need for correcting regional imbalances, where is the reward for development? The states of the South have nearly reached replacement levels of population growth. Yet, the population is a prominent criteria for devolution of central taxes. For how long can we keep incentivizing population growth?

If this logic were to be applied in the larger social context, the tax collected from hardworking middle classes should not be spent on PDS rice or welfare policies that the CM is running in the state. The middle classes are already asking ‘why are we funding minorities and poor who are having large family size?‘ The same logic can be extended to ‘how long can Hindus keep on incentivising Muslim population growth?’ Siddaramaiah seems to be suggesting that taxes collected from Southern states must not be shared with Northern states.

Though this argument is fundamentally against the accepted logic of progressive taxation ( i.e. rich pay more tax), this must also raise eyebrows in the national context. If every rich person or rich state refuses to share a part of wealth in form of taxes to poorer classes or poorer states then how can the society and nation function in the long run?

Does the Congress Party and Rahul Gandhi accept this argument? Will they accept arguments of Siddaramiah if they come to power in any of the North Indian states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh this year? Should people accept a party that plays on emotions of southern states while directly jeopardising national unity and development? Do these states accept the tag of free riders bestowed upon by a party that has national ambitions?


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