Puducherry and Karnataka are ruled by Congress governments and Andhra by the Telugu Desam Party, which recently exited the NDA.
Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are anxious that the Finance Commission's proposal to use the 2011 census, instead of the current 1971 census, as the criteria for revenue devolution will disadvantage them as they have implemented population control programmes better than states in the North. States with larger populations get more of the central funds.
"We have to revolt against the Union Government for our rights". The commission is going to consider the 2011 census to calculate the population of the states.
On the other hand, the TOR being broad enough also leaves enormous discretion in the hands of the commission on what they will finally end up recommending. The Southern states, and a few others like West Bengal and the states of the North East, have successfully reduced their population growth rates, compared to the rates (and population) of Northern States such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. A week later, on Tuesday, when the finance ministers of the southern states met to discuss state's federalism advocacy and the implications of the 15th Finance Commission, Panneerselvam was conspicuous by his absence.
"Without asking any state governments, the Government of India arbitrarily decided Terms of Reference which is against the law of the land". Point number 7 of the TOR gives a whole host of areas, where the commission can propose performance-based incentives for states.
Issac said the states should be given the freedom to decide on what they need and not be dictated to.
If the 2011 census is considered, Kerala will have to face a loss of at least Rs 20,000 crore in the coming 5 years. Tamil Nadu would lose twice that, he added.
Karnataka was of the opinion that all progressive states, including perhaps all the southern states, have been "disincentivised" by means of the ToR, he said.
Participants made a decision to involve West Bengal, Punjab, Odisha and Delhi before submitting a memorandum to President Ramnath Kovind and also explore legal options, if needed, to amend the ToR.
"The reframing of the terms of reference is imperative to strengthen the federal structure of the country and to reinforce its unity and integrity", said Pinarayi. It is important for Tamil Nadu to work alongside southern states in this effort as we stand to lose the most. The movement would emerge as one that would discuss the nature of the Centre-State relations, he said. Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry didn't attend the meeting of south states' finance ministers on Tuesday. Like Tamil Nadu, Telangana's decision to skip the meeting is being viewed as a part of its political strategy. "We are all aware that the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission has created apprehension about principles of fairness and equity in the distribution of national resources for development", the CPI-M veteran said.
"The 14th FC had no specific mandate for using 2011 census".