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Arvind Kejriwal claims Bhagwant Mann was demanding Punjab’s own money while seeking central aide, this is why he is playing a dangerous game

State CMs don’t have to go to the centre to ask for their share of revenue as claimed by Kejriwal, the same is already allocated by the centre on the basis of recommendation of the Finance Commission

Aam Aadmi Party, which won an impressive victory in recent Punjab assembly elections, has been supporting separatist elements in Punjab and Kashmir. The party has been openly colliding with Khalistani separatist groups, which have been revealed even by former party leaders, and have been supporting Kashmiri terrorists, which was evident when Arvind Kejriwal had mocked the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus. In yet another such incident, AAP supremo gave hints of his separatist intentions, by implying that the states in India are different from the India as a nation.

Arvind Keriwal made a potentially secessionist remark on NDTV India, where the anchor had questioned the party for seeking aides from centre for Punjab after announcing freebies before the elections. It may be noted that before the Punjab elections, Arvind Kejriwal had claimed the freebies announced by the party will be funded by saving ₹54,000 crore from ‘wastage’ of public money through corruption. However, immediately after becoming the Chief Minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann had demanded ₹1 lakh crore from the centre in the next two years.

When the NDTV anchor questioned Kejriwal about it, he bluntly replied that Mann had gone to demand their own money. He said that money belonging to people from various states are ‘lying’ with the central govt, and they are just asking the centre to give the money of people of Punjab.

Kejriwal claimed that Punjab CM went to the centre to say, ‘Give us the money of Punjab, we have to work’. He shamelessly ignored that he had promised to save ₹54,000 crore just by eliminating corruption like he has ‘done in Delhi’, even after claiming that Bhagwant Mann has already ended corruption in 10 days.

Kejriwal’s comments that money belonging to states are lying with the centre again raises questions on his understanding of economics despite being a CM and a former revenue official. Time and again, he tries to create a divide between the centre and the states, implying that the states are sovereign entities separate from the government of India.

The fact is, the central govt is not some foreign bank that states have deposited their money, and can withdraw ‘their money’ at will. Despite Rahul Gandhi’s recent claims that India is just a union of state, the Indian constitution makes it clear that India is a nation, and the states form this nation.

In the GST regime, states collect State GST while the centre collects central GST, both of which are the 50% of the GST applicable on a taxable item. Which means, states already collect 50% tax on most goods and services on their own. Apart from this, a share of central GST is also distributed among the states, along with other taxes like Income tax and Corporate Tax. Central govt also compensate the states for any shortfall due to moving from VAT to GST regime.

State CMs don’t have to go to the centre to ask for their share of revenue, the same is already allocated by the centre on the basis of recommendation of the Finance Commission. For example, in the union budget 2022-23, Punjab has been allocated ₹14,756.86 crore from various taxes collected by the central govt.

Most importantly, Bhagwant Mann was not demanding Punjab’s share in revenue from centre as Kejriwal claims, the CM was demanding additional ₹50,000 crore per year for two years claiming that the state’s economy is in very bad position. But Arvind Kejriwal termed it as Punjab demanding its own money from centre, which is completely false.

Moreover, no state can say that it wants 100% of its share in taxes, because all the taxes that centre collects come from states only, and the centre also has its own budget to fund. As the Govt of India does not have a separate territory and separate taxpayer base as Kejriwal seems to be suggesting, it can’t distribute all the revenue among states in cash form. Just like states get the benefit of various central govt schemes and the services of central departments, they also have to contribute to the central fund.

There are several sectors where the central govt spends money, all of which ultimately benefit the citizens living in the states only. The central govt has huge departments to run like defence, internal security, infrastructure development etc. Central govt also spends large amounts of money on various central welfare schemes and several subsidy programs, which benefit the citizens.

If the centre is building roads and railway lines, running welfare schemes for farmers and the poor, those are benefiting the people of respective states only, the centre does not have separate citizens to cater to.

It is not that the central govt is hoarding state’s money as Kejriwal is claiming, the money is being distributed among states and various central departments and schemes, which are detailed in the budget, on the basis of recommendations of various committees, the finance commission etc. The departmental parliamentary committee goes through all these details, none which are done in secretly. Therefore, with MPs in both houses of the parliament and with two state governments, the AAP chief knows all these details.

But still, Arvind Kejriwal continues to fuel centre-state divide by making baseless claims, by which he is playing a dangerous game of dividing the country. India has been battling separatism for decades in Punjab, in Kashmir, and in North Eastern state. The country has also been facing regionalism from several states, all of which ultimately harm the nation as a whole.

As a CM and the chief of party ruling two states, Arvind Kejriwal should be fighting separatism and regionalism, but he is fuelling them instead.

By demanding money from centre, Arvind Kejriwal has proved that his tall claims of funding his populist schemes by curtailing corruption were just tall claims, and now he and his party is actively preparing ground for blaming the Modi govt at centre to failure of fulfilment of their election promises.

It seems non-NDA parties have decided that weakening the nation by creating internal divisions is the best way to defeat BJP in polls, because Arvind Kejriwal is not the only one to adopt this strategy. Rahul Gandhi has started to challenging the idea of India in recent times, claiming that India is just a “union of states” and not a nation.

The Congress leader had said that the power arrangement between the states and the centre is of a “negotiation” and insinuated that India did not have a single national identity. By claiming that centre is hoarding money belonging to states, Arvind Kejriwal is also basically making the same allegations.

Other non-NDA state governments like West Bengal and Maharashtra governments have also chosen to fight with the centre on almost every aspect of governance instead of collaborating together for development and welfare of people. By doing this, major political parties in the county ruling some major states are actively supporting anti-nationalism and separatism in the country, which is a very dangerous sign.

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Raju Das
Raju Das
Corporate Dropout, Freelance Translator

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