Telangana to skip southern Fin Min's meet, AP all geared up

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has decided not to depute Finance Minister Eatala Rajender to the southern finance ministers' meeting on Tuesday, to protest against the 15th Finance Commission's terms of reference.

The meeting has been organised by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac in Thiruvananthapuram after the southern states opposed the latest terms of reference (ToR), which they claim will cut their share in revenues, while benefitting the Centre with a bigger slice of the pie.

"The issue has been brought to the notice of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. We believe that neither the minister nor any bureaucrat from the finance department will be attending the meeting on Tuesday," a senior official from the department said. However, he refused to divulge the reason behind the decision.

Chandrasekhar Rao's decision took everyone by surprise as in recent days he had vehemently opposed the Centre's control over states' finances and mooted the idea of an alternative front of southern states. It is believed that KCR, who took the initiative for a non-BJP, non-Congress front in the run up to the 2019 elections, is keen on leading the fight and not play second fiddle to the initiative taken by a Communist government.

However, Eatala's counterpart from Andhra Pradesh Yanamala Ramakrishnudu will be attending the meeting. In a series of press releases from Amaravati, the senior minister in Andhra Pradesh state cabinet has pointed out that southern states would stand to lose a substantial percentage of their revenues, and at the same time the revenue share of the Centre would increase as per the new ToR. He questioned why the Centre did not discuss the issue with the state government before finalising the ToR of 15th Finance Commission.

North, south divide

"Going by the Central Government's attitude, it appears that it wants to bring pressure on the Finance Commission, which is an autonomous body, to help North Indian States. The ToR of the latest Finance Commission proves this point," the statement said.

Yanamala is bound to renew the demand for Special Category status for AP to garner support from other southern states. "We object to the omission of Special Category Status (SCS) for Andhra Pradesh in the ToR of the 15th Finance Commission," he wrote.

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