“It is nothing but sectarian mentality behind states arguing that they should be given more in return since they are paying more taxes. If we go by that argument, then we should give more to rich people, because they pay more taxes. So, Tamil Nadu should understand the taxation principles,” said Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Talking at the 52nd anniversary of the Thuglak magazine organised at Chennai on Sunday (May 8), she said that an impression has been created against the BJP in Tamil Nadu that it is a party for upper caste people, a northern party, a rich people’s party, etc.
“There is no doubt that a national party needs to have a regional presence. In 2014, the BJP won in 66 out of 131 SC-ST reserved constituencies. In 2017, it increased it to 77. How? Because we gave genuine services,” she said.
‘An insult to the GST Council’
“After becoming the chief minister, Stalin went to Kerala and took advise from there and started the Dravidian Model. Now Kerala goes to Gujarat to see how CM dashboard is working. But people here are hesitant to acknowledge the Gujarat Model,” said Sitharaman while responding to the criticisms that the state is being discriminated financially.
“There has been criticism that Tamil Nadu is financially cornered. There is no truth in that. We have brought so many infrastructure projects in sectors like medical, power, smart cities in nine districts, railway overbridges, etc,” she said.
Responding to the state’s request that the Centre should extend the period of GST compensation by at least two years beyond June 2022, Sitharaman said that the GST Council is a federal body in which every finance minister from every state deliberates and it should not be politicised as “it amounts to an insult to the Council”.
“The dues are paid as per a formula jointly worked out by the Council and no individual has the right to tweak that formulation” she said.
Nirmala’s ABC of Congress
Taking a dig at Congress, Sitharaman said that the Congress has always associated with fringe parties and extreme left-wing forces.
“In the name of student federations and cultural wings, it associated with communists who were ruling our educational institutions. It has taken blunderous decisions on issues like Jammu and Kashmir. It was Nehru who forsake the people of Assam when China attacked our borders. It was ahead of Emergency that words like secular, socialism crept into our Constitution,” she said.
“Congress mukt Bharat. What’s the real meaning of it? The party has some characteristics. We can put it like A for apple and B for ball. Those characteristics are absentee politics, blunderous decisions, corruption, dynasty, elitism and family politics”.
Even in a time of Russia-Ukraine war and Covid-19 pandemic, the IMF has said that fastest economic growth is happening in India, she claimed.
“People like Bill Gates said India’s Covid vaccination coverage is higher than countries like United States. But in states like Madhya Pradesh, free vaccines were thrown into dustbins. It was in the Congress regime that the vaccines are sold on exorbitant prices. It is doubtful whether the Congress leadership has taken the vaccine or not. We don’t know whether they have taken an Indian made vaccine,” Sitharaman said.
Supporting entrepreneurial spirit
Touching upon the merger of nationalised banks, she said the country needs more bigger banks like SBI for economic development. “That’s why we brought amalgamations in 2019, when pandemic was around the corner. Even during the amalgamations, our bank employees and ‘bank mitras‘ (bank correspondents) went to the nook and corner of the country carrying banking services when lockdown was enforced. Because of their service, amalgamations were successful,” she said.
On start-ups, she said that we have about 68,000 registered start-ups in the country. Out of which nearly 100 become unicorns, Sitharaman claimed.
“For every 36 days, one start-up is coming from our country. The BJP has supported such kind of entrepreneurial skills from Jan Sangh period. We are giving PLI scheme to 15 ‘sunrise sectors’. We are taking up transformational changes. A lot of entrepreneurs from Hindi land are investing in Tamil Nadu and creating employment opportunities,” she said.