Shashi Tharoor speaks on North-South divide, slams BJP government for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan politics’

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday expressed concerns over the divisive nature of what he termed “Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan politics” of the ruling BJP government. “It has raised disquiet amongst many southern politicians,” Shashi Tharoor said as he spoke about the North-South divide.

“If the South faces political disenfranchisement, to go along with the sense of financial victimisation, then that’s bound to generate resentment that can spill over the confines of our routine politics. I don’t want the unity and integrity of India to be threatened in any way,” Shashi Tharoor said while speaking at the 54th anniversary event of a magazine in Chennai.

The Congress leader expressed deep concerns about the state of India’s federalism. “Our PM speaks of cooperative federalism, but it seems that the states are the only ones who are expected to cooperate, and the Union government operates at its own sweet will,” Tharoor remarked.

Tharoor criticised the government’s decision in 2017 to alter the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, asserting that it has deepened the North-South divide. “Even more money from the South is being sent to the North now,” he noted, suggesting that the move has opened a Pandora’s box with potentially incalculable consequences for the country”.

“Historically, the South has been subsidising the North. For every Rs 1 given by the state of UP, it receives Rs 1.79 from the centre. Whereas, when Karnataka gives Rs 1, it gets back Rs 0.47. That’s the difference,” Shashi Tharoor said, underscoring the financial disparities between northern and southern states.

The veteran Congress leader further delved into the financial autonomy of states, pointing out that Karnataka funds a significant portion of its expenses from its own taxes, in contrast to Bihar, which relies heavily on the Union government for funding.

“Karnataka meets 72 per cent of its expenses from the state’s own taxes. Whereas Bihar only has to meet 23 per cent. 77 per cent of their expenses is given by the union government,” Shashi Tharoor said. “India’s revenue is going disproportionately to its worst performing states.”

Expressing apprehension about future political developments, Tharoor touched upon the government’s plan for delimitation in 2026.

“If the intention is to fill up the new Lok Sabha hall, Uttar Pradesh may have more number of MPs than the entire South together. If the Hindi-speaking states have a 2/3rd majority, what stops them from bringing an amendment making Hindi the national language?” Shashi Tharoor questioned.

“It is essential that all people feel that the common nationhood is a winning proposition for them,” Shashi Tharoor said.

Published On:

Jan 14, 2024

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