Karnataka Congress MP DK Suresh walks back ‘separate country’ after backlash

Responding to Suresh, the BJP's Karnataka unit said the Congress is hatching a plan to partition India again.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 01, 2024 | 6:51 PMUpdatedFeb 01, 2024 | 9:15 PM

Karnataka Congress BJP Southern State Separate Country DK Shivakumar

Congress leader and a Lok Sabha member from Bengaluru Rural, DK Suresh, sought to clarify himself on the evening of Thursday, 1 February, after saying earlier in the day that states from South India might demand a separate country if the Union government continued the injustice in allotting funds to them.

Suresh is the younger brother of Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister and state Congress president DK Shivakumar.

He walked back his comments after they led to quite some furore from different quarters.

‘Proud Indian’

Defending his statement from earlier in the day, Suresh said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) in the evening: “A Proud Indian & proud Kannadiga. It is my responsibility to raise my voice against the injustice being done to southern states especially Karnataka. [sic]”

He added: “Everyone has the tight to question the step-motherly attitude of the Central Government towards the State. [sic]”

He also said: “I have said that if this injustice continues like this, the cry of separation has already come everywhere. BJP is very good at twisting my statements. [sic]”

Suresh then noted: “Our state is one of the largest contributors to the central coffers. The grant we got in return was completely a step-motherly attitude when it comes to projects. Karnataka is in India. Union government should not forget this is a federal structure. [sic]”

He added: “If we question the central government, we are ‘separatists’. Be it Mekedatu, Mahadayi, drought relief, central BJP government has not responded to any of our problems till now. [sic]”

He also said: “If name plates are made mandatory in Kannada to preserve the language of our state, they bring ordinances overnight to change it. We have not and will not have the plight of learning about patriotism, unity and integrity from the Bogus Janata Party. [sic]”

Earlier statement

Speaking to reporters outside Parliament in New Delhi after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s interim Budget presentation on Thursday, Suresh said the southern states were being subjected to injustice.

“We are witnessing it in every sector. We are witnessing our share (of GST and direct taxes) being provided to the North Indian states,” he said.

Suresh reiterated that the Centre has been meting out injustice at every stage to the southern states.

“If we won’t condemn this in the coming days, we will be compelled to demand a separate country (for southern states). I believe that the people from the Hindi region are imposing themselves on us,” Suresh added.

Pointing out the distribution of finances, he said, “Our states’ money is being given more to the northern states.” He added that Hindi was being imposed in the South.

Leaders from southern states have, several times, pointed to the skewered distribution of central funds including from the devolution of taxes.

Leaders from Karnataka have pointed out how for every ₹1 contributed by Uttar Pradesh, it receives ₹1.79 back from central taxes.

For every ₹1 of tax contributed by Karnataka, the state receives only ₹0.47.

While Kerala meets 72 percent of its expenses from its own taxes, Bihar meets only 23 percent of expenses from its own taxes and receives 77 percent from Central Taxes.

Recently, the southern states, especially Karnataka, have expressed discontent over the Centre sidelining the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission, pendency in tax compensation, unscientific tax devolution system and delay in providing grants for centrally-sponsored schemes.

Responding to Suresh’s statement, the BJP’s Karnataka unit accused the Congress of hatching plans to partition the country, and termed it an insult to the Constitution.

Related: Sitharaman hikes capital spend, trims deficit for next fiscal

Give us our money: Suresh

Threatening to raise voice demanding a separate country for the southern states, Suresh said the BJP-led central government made the Indian President do a publicity stunt.

“Yesterday was the first chapter (President’s address to the joint session). Today (the Budget presentation) was the second chapter,” the Congress MP said.

On the Union government not announcing new projects in the interim Budget, he said it was not new. “No one has presented a complete Budget before the elections. They (the BJP) have also continued it,” Suresh stated.

On the Centre promising the states interest-free loans for 50 years, Suresh demanded the Union government to provide the money due to the southern states. “Give is the money that belongs to us, and it is enough for us. Our only demand is to provide equal share in GST, customs and direct taxes.”

He wondered what was wrong in demanding the state’s share. “They (the Centre) are getting ₹4 lakh crore as taxes (from Karnataka). How much are they giving back to us? We need to question this. If not, in the coming 16th Finance Commission, if they fail to address our qualms then it will be necessary for all the southern states to raise their voice against it,” he warned.

“They did not give grants under the 15th Finance Commission, tax compensation, and additional funds. While giving development funds there is a disparity. Even in the irrigation, injustice is being meted out. We will fight against these issues in the coming days,” he said.

Related: Proactive management kept inflation at manageable levels

Congress plotting to partition India again: BJP

The BJP’s Karnataka unit hit back at Suresh, saying the Congress was hatching a plan to partition India again.

“Congress is now hatching a dangerous plot to partition India yet again.  Faced with constant rejection by Indians, Congress is now seeding secessionism,” it said on X.

“Following Nehru’s legacy, Karnataka Deputy CM DK Shivakumar’s brother, DK Suresh demands a separate country. If Congress leaders do not wish to live in India, they are more than welcome to quit India and move to their ‘Motherland’ Italy,” the BJP unit said, taking a dig at hit at former AICC president Sonia Gandhi.

In a post on X, Opposition leader R Ashok said, “On one hand Rahul Gandhi (Wayanad MP) is doing #BharatJodoNyayYatra, on the other hand, Congress MP and KPCC Chief DK Shivakumar’s brother DK Suresh calls for Bharat Todo.”

“This is exactly the same mindset of the Congress, which led to partition in India. Jairam Ramesh (Rajya Sabha MP), if an elected MP who has taken an oath to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India calls for dividing India, isn’t it a violation of his oath? Mallikarjun Kharge, (AICC chief) isn’t this an insult to Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution?” Ashok asked.