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BJP Attacks Karnataka Congress Government for “Illogical” Guarantees

BJP Attacks Karnataka Congress Government for “Illogical” Guarantees

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Jan 10: An uncalled for remark by a top executive of the Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s office has provided fresh ammunition to the opposition BJP to attack the Congress government in the state for its “illogical” guarantees that led to the party’s victory in the Assembly elections last year.

The Karnataka Congress had been left red faced after Siddaramaiah’s financial advisor Basavraj Rayareddy’s remarks to the media on the “burden” the state government faced in implementing the six guarantees the party had given in its election manifesto. The statement has given fresh fuel to the BJP which has always attacked the guarantees, seen as having powered the Congress to government in the state, as “illogical.”

Hitting out, the Karnataka BJP posted on X: “Straight from the horse’s mouth! CM’s close aide & economic adviser has accepted Congress government’s inability to deliver on the ‘guarantees’… Says the illogical and unscientific implementation of ‘guarantees’ have become a huge burden to Karnataka… Finally, Congress has admitted that it has pushed Karnataka, an economic powerhouse under (the) BJP, into bankruptcy due to their arrogant rule and misguided policies.”

Appointed to the post in December, Rayareddy said during an interaction with the media on Monday that “the assurances made by the Congress (leading up to the elections last May) were implemented in a sudden manner.” “The burden on (state) finances has increased since the implementation of the guarantee schemes. We have discussed measures on how to handle it,” he said, going on to suggest that “reforms” or changes could be made in the schemes. Rayareddy also said Rs 58,000 crore had so far been spent on the guarantees.

The Congress had given six guarantees as part of its pre-poll promises, and has now implemented the schemes: Anna Bhagya, providing 5 kg rice free per family (estimated to cost Rs 9,000 crore annually as per the state’s 14th Budget ); Gruha Jyothi, providing free power of up to 200 units per month (Rs 13,000 crore per year); Gruha Lakshmi (Rs 30,000 crore) through which Rs 2,000 is provided to women heads monthly; Shakti scheme for free bus travel for women (Rs 4,000 crore); and Yuva Nidhi, providing Rs 3,000 monthly unemployment allowance to youth (Rs 2,500 crore).

Denying Rayareddy’s claims, Medical Education and Skill Development Minister Sharan Prakash Patil said the guarantees “were not hurting allocation to any of the departments.” “For 2022-’23, the BJP placed a budget (or vote of account) in which funds for planned expenditure were 50,000 crore. That has not been reduced. We have mobilised additional resources, have tweaked some schemes that are redundant and reorganised them to implement these guarantees,” he said.

According to Mr Patil, the government was focused on better mobilisation of resources and reducing excessive administrative expenditure and judicious use of funds. “We are plugging leakages in the resources of the government,” he said.

Ironically, the move to appoint Rayareddy as financial advisor was largely seen as a way of “pacifying” the four-time MLA, who had served as higher education minister briefly during the first Siddaramaiah government (2013-18), but could not be accommodated this time.

Rayareddy said his role as a financial advisor was to recommend changes, ensure that the state got its share of funds from the Centre, especially issues faced due to the 15th and 16th Finance Commissions, and to look at taxation problems.

 

 

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