Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that his government will stage a protest in New Delhi on Thursday to “safeguard the constitutional rights of all states”, reported The Indian Express.

This comes a day after the Congress government in Karnataka held a protest in the national capital against the Centre’s “financial injustice” towards the state.

Vijayan said on Wednesday that development expenditure in Kerala has been hampered because the Centre’s “unconstitutional approach” has created financial constraints. “The aim of this struggle is not to triumph over anyone, but to secure what we rightfully deserve instead of surrendering,” he said.

Vijayan alleged that the Centre’s actions were casting a shadow on the principle of cooperative federalism and that the government was neglecting states not aligned with the National Democratic Alliance.

This comes days after the Kerala government criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre’s fiscal approach towards the state, saying that there was a consistent decline in the awards of successive Finance Commissions to the state, reported PTI.

In a customary policy address presented in the state Assembly in January, the government said that Kerala has witnessed a decline in its share of taxes devolved by the Union government from 3.88% during the 10th Finance Commission period (1995-2000) to a mere 1.92% during the 15th Finance Commission period (2021-2026).

“My Government is put to added liquidity stress because of the retrospective cut in borrowing limits, which is not in accordance with the accepted recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission,” the document read. “This stand of the Union Government needs an early reconsideration.”

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan read out only the last paragraph of the document and concluded the address.

‘North-south divide’

On Wednesday, Vijayan stated that he believes the entire country will stand in support of Kerala. The Left Democratic Front has invited “friendly parties”, including the Aam Aadmi Party, to participate in the protest.

The chief minister also clarified that non-BJP parties coming together for the protest should not be seen as a divide between the north and the south.

This was in reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks that the Opposition was creating a “north-south” divide.

“A nation is not just a piece of land for us,” Modi said while replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the motion to thank President Droupadi Murmu for her address to the joint session of Parliament.

The prime minister said that “if one limb of the body does not function, the entire body is considered disabled”

He added: “Similarly if one corner of the country is devoid of development, the country cannot become developed. The language that is being spoken today, new narratives are being built out of political selfishness to break the country.”

He called the use of such language “unfortunate” and stated that it is “dangerous for the future of the country”.

On states raising complaints of inadequate tax disbursements, the prime minister said that the language of “our tax, our money” should not be used. He said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, he chaired 20 meetings with chief ministers of all states and credited the entire machinery for tackling the challenge.

“The design of our programme takes the states along and is for taking the nations forward collectively,” said Modi.

Karnataka government’s protest

On Wednesday, the Congress government in Karnataka, led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, launched the “Chalo Delhi” protest in the national capital’s Jantar Mantar area, opposing the Centre’s “financial injustice” towards the southern state.

Like Kerala, Karnataka has been at loggerheads with the central government in connection with the devolution of tax funds.

The state has raised grievances about funds to implement drought relief measures remaining pending and the Centre denying permission for irrigation and potable water-related projects in the state, among other matters.

On Monday, during the Budget Session of Parliament, Congress’ Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury cited Karnataka’s example while questioning the Union government why southern India states ruled by Opposition parties were being deprived of their dues by the Centre.

In response, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that political interests do not come in the way of the states receiving funds from the Centre. “This apprehension that some states are being discriminated against is a politically-vitiated narrative,” she said.

Sitharaman also suggested that the Congress government in Karnataka was incurring expenses that its own Budget could not sustain.