New Delhi, April 20 -- The Congress on Saturday accused the central government of meting out "unfair" treatment to Karnataka and asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not releasing Rs 18,000 crore for the state's drought-hit farmers.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions on Karnataka for Modi ahead of his rally in Chikkaballapur.

"Today's questions for PM Modi as he heads to Chikkaballapur: Why is the PM not releasing Rs. 18,000 crores for Karnataka's drought hit farmers? Why is the PM not paying MGNREGS workers their wages? Why has the Modi Sarkar been so unfair to Karnataka in sharing revenues?" Ramesh said on X.

Elaborating on what he said were "jumla details", Ramesh pointed out that Karnataka is reeling under an acute drought situation, with 223 out of 236 Talukas facing drought conditions and 196 taluks being categorised as severely hit.

As early as September 2023, the Karnataka government had approached the Modi government to release funds of Rs 18,172 crores for drought relief, he said.

He pointed out that the rules of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, state that the Centre must take a final decision on the release of funds within one month of receiving the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) report.

"For Karnataka, this period expired in December 2023. The Finance Minister has since accepted that the Centre delayed funds but her latest excuse is that the Centre's hands are tied since the Model Code of Conduct came into force last month," Ramesh said.

"Needless to say, this Modi-made delay has had severe repercussions for the people of Karnataka. Why is PM Modi so indifferent to their needs?" he said.

To help alleviate the drought-related stress on the rural economy, the Karnataka government has sought to increase the number of working-days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) from 100 to 150, he said.

"There is a provision in the scheme to do so during periods of drought. However, the Modi Sarkar has not only failed to approve the extension of the scheme, it has also failed to release Rs. 1600 crores towards the payment of wages to those working under MGNREGS," Ramesh said.

When is the Modi government going to pay Karnataka's MGNREGS workers their wages, he asked.

"In 2008, when PM Modi was still Chief Minister of Gujarat, he had kicked up a storm with his remarks on fiscal injustice and insufficient devolution of taxes from the centre. However, now that the BJP is in power, the shoe is on the other foot," he alleged.

Noting that Karnataka has incurred a loss of 1.87 lakh crores during the five years of the 15th Finance Commission, Ramesh said that in February, the fifth State Finance Commission also noted that Karnataka has suffered a significant reduction in its share of central taxes and duties from 4.7 per cent to 3.6 per cent.

"This reduction in Karnataka's share comes amidst the Modi Sarkar's introduction of a cess raj, intentionally designed to avoid sharing revenues with States. Is the PM's change of heart on this issue not entirely attributable to his desire for centralising power?" Ramesh said and asked the prime minister to break his "silence" on these issues.

Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from Millennium Post.