The unprecedented Delhi protest by statestext_fields
The protest held in the national capital under the leadership of the Left Front government in Kerala, with the slogan 'Fight to Protect Federalism,' should be described as historic. Though the protest at Jantar Mantar was against the Modi government's financial neglect of Kerala, it turned out to be a national platform of unity for opposition parties. Alongside ministers, LDF MPs, and MLAs from Kerala, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Tamil Nadu IT Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan, and former Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah joined the protest platform led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. A solidarity video message from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin was also presented on the stage. It can be said that the national capital witnessed a powerful protest that openly exposed the economic fascism, authoritarianism, and discrimination of the Modi government against states ruled by opposition parties. It must be assumed that the Centre has also realized that Kerala's protest is a strong warning. That is probably why Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman specifically raised the issue of Kerala in her reply to the interim budget discussion in Parliament after the protest.
The Modi government has been following regressive trends that encroach on the jurisdiction of the states and undermine the federal structure of the country ever since it came to power. This can be observed in every scheme introduced by the central government in the last nine years. Take the case of GST, which was implemented under the guise of a major reform. Through the 'tax reform' labelled as 'One Country, One Tax', it is now evident to everyone how states like Kerala have been pushed into financial crisis. There is also an unethical political vendetta on the part of the Centre to deliberately ignore and deny the financial assistance that 'opposition' states like Kerala deserve. The fact that the Centre has not provided the GST compensation rightfully due to these states and has not allowed them to borrow money within the set limits has been identified as a clear sign of the Centre's economic fascism. When all these states found themselves in a situation where they did not have enough money even for day-to-day expenditure, they took to the streets of Delhi to protest. On Wednesday, the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka was the first to reach Jantar Mantar; the next day, the Kerala government led by Pinarayi Vijayan also arrived. On the same day, DMK MPs staged another protest in the Parliament complex. These three states are governed by the main parties on the 'INDIA' front. The case they all had to present was the same.
The opposition parties have alleged that the central government is imposing a "financial blockade" on the opposition-ruled states by continuously violating the constitutional principle of just distribution of resources. They substantiated their claim with figures. Take the case of Kerala: The law states that if the state collects Rs. 65, the centre should provide Rs. 35. However, even after collecting Rs. 79, Kerala receives only Rs. 21. It is important to note that some "ruling party states" receive up to Rs. 70. Kerala's tax share, which was close to four per cent, has now been reduced to less than half. As M.K. Stalin said, what is denied to the people through such measure is nothing but their oxygen. For these reasons, it can be said without a doubt that the protest that took place at Jantar Mantar was completely justified and inevitable. As usual, the government's approach to this protest has been nothing more than an assertion of their unethical politics. The Prime Minister tried to portray the issue as a "North-South problem." Although the Sangh Parivar is very active in South India, they have not been able to gain much ground in electoral politics except in Karnataka; and now they are losing Karnataka too.
In this situation, what is often seen in the southern states is the vindictive politics of the Hindutva front. The effort to create stalemates and uncertainty in governance using the Raj Bhavans has to be seen part of this drive. The recent protests at Jantar Mantar are to be viewed as a response to such regressive politics of the Centre. It is no small feat that by leading such a historic struggle, the Left parties were able to strengthen their presence in national politics. It can also be seen as a significant move by the Left Front, which was one of the driving forces behind the formation of the UPA coalition 20 years ago. Unfortunately, not a single member of the Congress, the main party in the UPA alliance, was present to witness this historic moment. Despite the differences and disagreements in state politics, there were enough reasons for them to unite in this struggle. The state leadership failed to recognize this, and the central leadership did not step in to correct them. In that sense, the protests in Delhi also showed the internal weaknesses of the opposition alliance.