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Divided we fall: on the 15th Finance Commission

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks vested interests are behind the “baseless” allegation that the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission are biased against certain States or a region. He did not name the region, but he was clearly responding to growing clamour from the southern States for a rethink on the parameters for the Commission to determine revenue-sharing between the Centre and the States. The southern States are concerned that the Commission is switching from the 1971 Census to the 2011 Census. This means States that have done relatively better to control population growth could see their allocations, as a fraction of the total resources, reduced. However, speaking in Chennai Mr. Modi said a State like Tamil Nadu would actually benefit from the Commission’s mandate as the Centre has mooted incentives for those who have done well on population control. That the Prime Minister has had to wade in to try and manage a controversy, days after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had termed it as ‘needless’, signals the Centre’s concerns about the narrative turning against the BJP ahead of the Karnataka election

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