The southern states are worried about the Terms of Reference of the 15th Finance Commission that would decide on the sharing of tax revenues between the Centre and the states and on Saturday Punjab too joined the lot over the sharing of tax revenues. The southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have said that the panel’s population-based criteria would punish them most as they have managed to rein in population growth and has been highest tax contributors than the northern ones. With elections due in Karnataka next month BJP is trying to shed the image of north-centric party. The biggest challenge for BJP has been in Karnataka, where Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s government last month declared the Lingayat community as a separate religion, effectively giving the community special benefits stalling the BJP move to win over them and to include in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally. Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular) a formidable force among the Vokkaliga caste, is the state’s third front the other issue taking the wind out BJP sail. The simple fact is that the southern states are miles ahead or miles away from most of BJP’s pet poll planks: national security, law and order, Hindutva and the fight against corruption. BJP’s simplistic Hindutva appeal often meets with aspirational demands for aid or power-sharing in the south. RSS cadre have been fighting battles against left-wing activism in Kerala, but it cannot be denied that in social welfare, both Congress and Communism compete to stay in power in the state. No doubt corruption is a major issue in the south, but it is equally true that southern states have led the way in populist goodies such as cheap rice, midday meals, laptop gifts for students and job quotas. The average southern voter is less upset with misrule than northern counterpart.
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