Pinarayi Vijayan and MP Stalin slammed the BJP-led NDA government at a seminar organized by the CPI(M) as part of its 23rd Party Congress.
A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said people in different states should communicate with each other in Hindi rather than English, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin s is spoken in Malayalam at a seminar organized by Kerala CPI(M). Stalin called on states to fight for their autonomy and for a strong bond to be formed between parties with a common thought. The ‘Centre-State Relations’ seminar was held on Saturday April 9 in Kannur, the fourth day of the 23rd Party Congress of the CPI(M).
Stalin addressed his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan, who was another speaker at the seminar, as his “comrade”.
“It was in 1959 in Kerala that for the first time a democratic government was overthrown using Article 356 (presidential rule). In Tamil Nadu too, it happened twice – in 1976 and 1991,” Stalin said, adding that Kerala and Tamil Nadu had the right to talk about union-state relations. “We are not calling to save Tamil Nadu or Kerala but to save India states must be saved first. Only if states are saved can India be saved,” he added.
A massive crowd attended the seminar which was held at Jawahar Stadium (AKG Nagar). The Party Congress started on April 6 in Kannur, the party stronghold, and will end on Sunday April 10.
“It is necessary that a strong bond be formed between parties with a common thought. Victory is only possible if these parties unite. Only if this victory can guarantee social justice, equality and secularism will be upheld. For such a victory, I humbly ask all parties to take appropriate action now. Let us fight for self-governance. Let us create a truly federal India,” Stalin added, addressing the crowd.
“India has many religions, languages, races, cultures, habits, clothes and food. Despite this diversity, we are unified. Unity in diversity is our culture. But attempts are made to erase this diversity and bring monotony. One country. One election. One food. One exam. One education. One religion. One culture. One language. One tradition. If this continues, India will have a party and then a person. “There is nothing more dangerous than that. BJP can rejoice until it becomes one party. But when it comes to a person, BJP should also join us in opposing it” , did he declare.
Stalin, while speaking mostly in Tamil, switched to Malayalam midway through his speech. “Those who drafted our Constitution did not form a government with a singularity. Powers were separated into Union List, State List and Concurrent List. After the introduction of the Panchayat Raj Act, the panchayats have been given power. The Union Government is trying to destroy villages and states – it is against the Constitution. The Union Government is overstepping its bounds beyond the power given to it by the Constitution,” said Stalin.
Pinarayi Vijayan called for restructuring center-state relations in a way that preserves states’ characters and rights. Pinarayi offered an 11-point suggestion in this direction. He said that the misuse of central investigative agencies for the Centre’s political purposes, especially against states, must be stopped.
Speaking at the event, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi suggested that states should not be penalized for making progress in various sectors. “Funds for these sectors should be able to be used in other sectors or in tailored projects to further excel in these same sectors. Central funds are tied to their programs and policies. State governments should not be constrained to follow the policies of the Center when they have been voted on by the people to pursue alternative policies. The Center should only enter into agreements on matters that affect states after first consulting with the states concerned,” Pinarayi said. .
He also called for the restructuring of governors’ powers and sought a solution to the loss of revenue due to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“The powers of governors should be restructured in such a way that center-state relations become effective. The situation in which the Center collects taxes, without having to share them adequately with the States, should change. The taxes of the divisible pool decrease from year to year. This affects state revenues and should therefore change. Revenue gap grants are decreasing. A solution to this is needed. Revenue losses due to the introduction of the GST should continue to be compensated, beyond the current 5-year ceiling. The state borrowing limit should be increased,” Pinarayi said.
Pinarayi accused Congress of not being prepared to fight for what belongs to the states by right. “With regard to Kerala, the United Democratic Front (UDF) MPs are not inclined to raise Kerala’s development issues in Parliament. As a proponent of neoliberal policies, Congress was not interested in democratizing centre-state relations. Instead, Congress introduced VAT (value added tax), brushing aside state demands for more taxing powers,” he said.
Hitting the BJP, Pinarayi said the past few years show that the BJP is not interested in democratizing relations between the Union government and Indian states.
“The BJP has aggressively pursued policies initiated by Congress. The democratization of relations between the Center and the State is not on their agenda and each of their initiatives has further deteriorated the relations between the Center and the State. The interventions in Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep are along the same lines. By forking and dismembering J&K, his constitutional right granted by Section 370 was violated. The unique features of Lakshadweep have been overlooked when making one-sided decisions about it,” Pinarayi said.