The Finance Minister of the southern Indian state of Kerala Thomas Isaac has presented his budgetary proposals for the year 2020-21.
During his speech he accused the federal government of “strangulating” the state by denying it funds.
The cover of the budget document had a painting of the scene of assassination of India’s 'Father of the Nation' Mahatma Gandhi. The painting, by a Malayalam artist, depicts a bullet ridden Gandhi lying in the laps of supporters.
Isaac said: “We are sending out a message that we will not forget who murdered Gandhi.”
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac: Definitely, it is a political statement, cover of my budget speech. It is a painting by a Malayalam artist of Mahatma Gandhi's murder scene. We are sending out a message that we will not forget who murdered Gandhi. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/MqJjpaNr44— ANI (@ANI) February 7, 2020
Isaac alleged that the federal government was trying to re-write the history of India and suggested that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was an effort to divide the country along religious lines.
“This is important at the times when history is being re-written. There is an attempt to erase some popular memories and use National Register of Citizens (NRC) to divide the population on communal lines. Kerala will stand united,” added the Minister.
Earlier, the Kerala government challenged the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the Supreme Court of India seeking to declare it as "unconstitutional". The state chief, Pinarayi Vijayan, is a bitter critic of the law and has vowed not to implement it in Kerala.
The CAA, enacted in December 2019, seeks to grant citizenship to "persecuted" religious minorities from three neighbouring Islamic countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India before 31 December 2014.
The law has left out Muslims - something which has sparked nationwide protests, as opposition parties, civil rights groups and university students claim it is discriminatory to Muslims and against the secular credentials of the Indian Constitution. The federal government has denied these accusations.
The National Register of Citizens is a headcount of citizens of the country and is being introduced to weed out illegal immigrants. The federal government has clarified that it has no plans as of now to implement a nationwide NRC.