BJP president Amit Shah
BJP president Amit Shah Source: @AmitShah/Twitter
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The BJP chief’s pinch-hitting against southern states does no good to the Team India spirit that Modi speaks of.

A week after TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu snapped ties with the BJP, Andhra Pradesh got a glimpse of how ugly post-divorce political life can be.

On 24 March, BJP president Amit Shah accused Naidu of not submitting fund-utilisation certificates (UC) for the money released by the Centre. He asked if the Andhra government’s reluctance to receive NABARD funds was “because it poses problems in diverting funds for ‘other’ purposes”.

The underlying subtext of corruption under Naidu was too obvious to miss.

“Governments are accountable to the people for every single penny spent on their behalf. Therefore, your statements that the state government has no obligation to give any such statements of expenditure are evasive and reflect governance deficit,” Shah wrote.

He added that there were “serious lapses” on part of the Andhra government that “cannot be ignored”.

There is a familiar pattern to Shah’s strategy in dealing with political leaders who are not part of his party’s parivaar. It involves hurling corruption charges while appropriating the tag of the cleanest party for the BJP. This fits into Shah’s plan of making inroads in these states and eventually capturing power.

And Naidu is not his first target.

At a public meeting in Warangal in September 2016, Shah had accused the Telangana government of diverting Rs 90,000 crore released by the Centre and spending the money to buy MLAs from other political parties.

Nine months later, in May 2017, Shah, on a tour of Telangana, said the Narendra Modi government had released Rs 1 lakh crore to the state. At that time, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was not amused.

“The Centre is not doing any meherbaani (favour), it is our right,” KCR snapped back. The CM also pointed out that only Rs 67,390 crore was received by Telangana from the time the state was formed in 2014.

“Telangana paid Rs 50,013 crore to the Centre in the form of various taxes in 2016-17, but got only Rs 24,561 crore in return. This shows who owed funds to whom,” added KCR, trying to erase the impression that Telangana was living off New Delhi’s charity.

Again, this January, Shah engaged in a similar account-taking exercise with Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. He said Rs 3 lakh crore had been given to Karnataka by the Centre as grants and under the 14th finance commission, and went on to charge the Siddaramaiah administration with corruption.

“Where has all the money gone? If the people want to know where the money siphoned off by the Congress government has gone, look at the nearest Congress leader in your village,” said Shah, adding, “He would have constructed a four-floor apartment and has a brand new car in front of his home, whereas, five years ago, he was staying in a hut and riding a Luna moped.”

Chief ministers like Naidu and others must follow procedures and account for every penny spent. But the problem is that Shah is appropriating the role of CAG or any other government-appointed watchdog.

It does not help matters that the latest charge comes at a time when south Indian states are articulating their grievance about receiving much less than what they contribute to the central pool in the form of taxes. If Shah has proof of wrongdoing against Naidu, KCR or Siddaramaiah, the central government should order a probe instead of letting the ruling party chief use it as political ammunition. Not doing so is to allow an alleged loot of the country’s wealth.

Given his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, most often, Shah’s diatribe is assumed as coming from the former himself. Shah isn’t just talking politics, but here his accusations are viewed as though he is speaking on behalf of the government of India. He is actually commenting on the Centre-state financial relationship. But he is neither the finance minister nor even a member of the council of ministers.

The Shah template of pinch-hitting does no good to the federal structure of the country and the Team India spirit that Modi speaks of. Shah’s brusque rhetoric is, in fact, a commentary on mistrust. What makes it worse is the mai-baap tone and tenor that makes it seem like the BJP government at the Centre has dipped into its pocket to give money to the states. No one in any of the 29 states of the Indian Union will appreciate being made to feel as if they are living off the generosity of the BJP government in New Delhi.

It is this attitude that provoked KCR to accuse Delhi of riding roughshod over the federal structure of the country, reducing states to puppets. This is why Mamata Banerjee accused Delhi of following “fake federalism”.

“It is a letter written insulting every citizen of Andhra Pradesh,” said Naidu, taking the position that Shah’s letter was not written only to him. KCR had taken a similar position when he said he won’t back off if anything is said to harm Telangana’s image.

As the battle lines get drawn ahead of 2019, this is part of the strategy satraps are putting in place. Identity politics is their answer to Amit Shah’s brand of realpolitik that questions their honesty quotient.

T.S. Sudhir is a freelance journalist and commentator who writes on the southern states.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Great article. This is majority of Telugus feel anyway. The condescending tone of Jaitley doesn’t help either. Had high hopes for BJP. However, it turned out to be a government for Cowbelt and Gujarat.

  2. What the author forgets to mention is that if there is discrepancy in funds spent then why was the central govt quite till now. There have numerous appeals made to the center and the highest court to look in to the funds being siphoned off but none looked into them. BJP and TDP combined have looted the state. I am not sure about the state of other states but in Andhra Pradesh there is corruption at every level and why has BJP stayed quite for so long rather than pulling up cbn.

  3. Yes the BJP government at centre is bullying the state governments where either they are not in power or with the Parties under alliance. They are behaving with Junior partners as if India and all Indians are their life time property.
    I personally see people all over India revolting and bring an end to this rule of Break Janta Promise by our corrupt policians to establish a new set of rule where every Indian gets the fruit of development and India as leading the world..The present India is not an India for which leaders of great values sacrificed their lives, for which Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Sukhdev, Shaheed RajGuru laughingly accepted the Gallows during the British Rule.

    • The secret is in the native sauce boss…When Bhagat Singh was facing gallows fighting for our freedom, The great ancestor of this low life Sanghis was busy writing apology letters to secure HIS freedom.
      Our problems started there and these Sanghis does not seem to rest in peace unless they see Dravidian Country is formed.

      See, there is one among their kind says that development of the country and mention of Freedom fighters as boring. These are the biggest anti-nationals.

  4. Objectively, why isn’t the question flipped & directed at the Central Govt. ? The parliament is passing spending bills without as much as revealing all of it( no one knew what the last minute amendments were when it was passed), let alone discuss it.

    • Nice observation,
      I think the concept of these National Parties should go. It should always be the alliance of regional parties that should rule the Union.

      • See any regional party, DMK, TDP, SP, JDU (s) , NC, bsp , TRS shivsena, all are castiest and dynastic. More corrupt than national parties . Whipping regionalism , religious sentiments may yield benefits to individuals but lose to the country. If you think of Southern federation which state had good relationship with the other. Only TN in South exihibited guts to tame north , rest surrendered mainly due to businessmen politicians who always put personal interest as priority to state interest. Every system has loopholes but we should make it work.

      • Coalition governments with a strong LokPal is the way to go. Any of the coalition partners try to scam, they should be stopped by the LokPal and an independent CBI. Checks and balances, thats the only way, multiple agencies must be allowed to investigate and prosecute politicians. This kind of a absolute power to BJP will destroy everything.

  5. Viewed objectively, the more developed states in the south and the west are subsidising the cow belt and the north east. That is a fact of Indian federalism. It must be handled with sensitivity, because strains are building up in the tectonic plates.

  6. Mr. Sudhir, Amit Shah is only giving the details of the accounts and illegal funds’ diversion. Don’t give regional colours for it. Try to think and understand

    • Come on. For every rupee that Karnatka sends to centre it gets back 47 paise. On the other hand for every rupee that UP sends it is getting back 1.9 rupee back. Why should South fund the north.

      • may be because more people from UP and serve in central forces and die fir you whereas you sit here and abuse them..also 70s and 80s maharashtra and gujarat subsidised your development…

        • So UP people are working for free in the armed forces? Abt Gujarat and subsidising southern states Give us the source before you spill some shit.

        • Maybe, Maybe not! Maybe people from UP sit in the centre and divert all the money to their own bank accounts! It is not like there are exemplary politicians from UP or anything.

        • They don’t do that for free. They do it for money which is paid for by the tax payers. That sort of justification is meaningless.

        • Which means that the rest of the family should be grateful for what they are getting and not trying to take away that Roti too.

    • Vomit shah vomits everywhere and if someone cries “stinks” then he closes their breathing itself forever…
      Coming to the subject;
      Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the biggest delinquents when it comes to discipline on Financial Reporting. Why the hell he should take our money and divert it to them. Did he not know of these problems when CBN was with NDA?
      These folks are like cancer to this country. They will sit back only when we secede and form a saner, safer and richer nation. Those who want to bring BJP back to power, be ready to shell out an extra 65% of your monthly income as extra Tax. Because we are providing for it now, keep the cow belt, be prosperous and very happy! So do will we without these pests those we call Sanghis!

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