PTR refers to Centre as ‘colonial power’, terms PM Modi as ‘worst authoritarian’ in India’s history

Tamil Nadu FM says state is being targeted because it is the “last bastion of true state’s rights and good economic performance'

ByShilpa Nair

Published Aug 05, 2022 | 9:20 AMUpdatedAug 05, 2022 | 1:52 PM

Thiaga Rajan

Referring to the BJP-led Union government as the “colonial powers in Delhi”, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan, or PTR, on Thursday, 4 August, mounted a scathing attack on the Centre for politically targeting the state.

The attack was a riposte to the recent address by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha where she criticized the DMK government for failing to cut fuel taxes, among other things.

PTR’s fact-checking of his central counterpart came in a series of videos countering Sithraman’s statements in Parliament about DMK allegedly failing to act on its election promises and the Tamil Nadu finance minister being part of the Goods and Services Tax (SGT) council which approved the five percent tax on essential food items such as rice, wheat, milk, etc — a decision that has come in for sharp criticism from all quarters.

TN’s performance vs Centre’s

Asked why Tamil Nadu was being constantly targeted in parliamentary debates, PTR claimed that the state is the “last bastion of true state’s rights and good economic performance in the country”, and was one of the very few “that retained its independence directly”.

To prove his point that Tamil Nadu’s performance has been “phenomenal”, PTR, a staunch advocate of federalism, went on to compare the state and the Centre with respect to certain economic parameters.

While claiming that the fiscal deficit of the Union government in the last budget was around seven percent, he said Tamil Nadu’s fiscal deficit stood closer to 3.5 percent. Similarly, when the inflation in the country is around eight percent, the state has maintained it at around five percent. Further, while the Centre claimed that its GST revenues are up by 20-30 percent, Tamil Nadu’s numbers were “greater than that”.

“So, here’s a functioning government that is showing compassion, social justice and yet returning superior results. This rubs the notion of the colonial powers in Delhi the wrong way,” he charged.

‘Colonial powers want all control’

He further went on to say that the “colonial powers” would want everyone to believe that only they know how to make laws; all funds should go only to them, and all control should be in their hands.

“They think the states should become mere empty vassals and slaves, saying yes sir, “three bags full”. But Tamil Nadu shows you can go another way and do better. This is the reason why the state is constantly targeted in my opinion,” PTR said.

Another reason why the state is targeted, according to the finance minister, is because it was “standing up to colonialism”.

While accusing the Centre of “thrusting its hands” on state subjects like education, agriculture, dams and ports, etc., PTR also drew attention to how the Union government wants to control the finances of states the same way.

“Every Finance Commission, we get less and less of our tax money back. At one point we used to get 60 percent of our tax money back as untied money and 40 percent through some schemes or central grants. Now it has gone reverse. We get almost no money untied and all the money is based on how they say we should spend the portion of the money we get back. If this is not colonialism, then what is it?” he questioned.

The Tamil Nadu finance minister’s political attack didn’t stop with just that.

‘Espousing same principles as CM Modi’

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr Thiaga Rajan said that all of a sudden “a champion of state’s rights has become the worst authoritarian in the history of India”.

He added that when Tamil Nadu espouses the same principles that Modi, as the chief minister of Gujarat for 13 years, espoused, the state finds itself in “direct contrast and contradiction” to the Union government.

Watch the full response of Dr Thiaga Rajan here: