Drought relief fund for Karnataka: BJP leaders claim credit; Congress refutes

While the BJP claimed that funds release was due to EC's permission, Congress reiterated that centre was forced to release the funds only after the SC's intervention.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 27, 2024 | 4:22 PMUpdatedApr 27, 2024 | 7:26 PM

Drought relief fund congress bjp

A war of words has ensued between the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP in Karnataka following the Centre’s release of drought relief funds for the state.

While the BJP claimed that the funds were released with the Election Commission’s permission, the Congress reiterated that the Centre was forced to release the funds only after the Supreme Court intervened.

The Congress criticised the BJP for not caring about Karnataka, as the BJP claimed that the Congress had used the droughts for political mileage.

Following a legal battle by the Government of Karnataka, the Finance Ministry on Friday, 26 April, sanctioned the release of financial assistance worth ₹3730.32 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for the fiscal year 2024-25 to address natural calamities.

In March, the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government approached the Supreme Court to direct the Union government to release financial assistance from NDRF due to the state.

The plea also sought to declare that the government’s refusal to release the financial aid for the drought arrangement violated the fundamental rights of the people guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

On 22 April, following the apex court’s intervention, the Attorney General informed the court that no argument was needed as the Union government had solicited the EC’s clearance to deal with the matter and had been granted the clearance.

Also read: Big win for Karnataka’s fight for funds: Centre releases disaster relief after plea in Supreme Court

‘Thankyou Modi Ji’: BJP

The BJP leaders, including the state president BY Vijayendra, have given all the credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Thanking the prime minister on behalf of the farming community, BY Vijayendra wrote on X: “Narendra Modi ji’s government has always lived up to its promise and displayed great responsibility towards the benefit of the farmers.”

He posted, “Despite the Election Code of Conduct in place & the associated restrictions, @BJP4India govt sought special permissions from @ECISVEEP for the priority release of funds considering the distress of our farmers in view of the unprecedented drought. Proud of our PM for standing by the cause of our Farmers & welfare of the State.”

The state BJP chief also attacked Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, “This is a tight slap on the face Siddaramaiah govt, who instead of taking immediate relief measures to assuage the distress of the farmers, was merely looking at politicizing the issue and scoring brownie points over the pain of our ‘Annadaatas’.”

He concluded the tweet by claiming that the Congress government has “Lost all moral rights to talk about farmers and rule the state.”

Bengaluru South incumbent MP Tejasvi Surya also took to X to thank the prime minister.

Praising the PM, he wrote: “This shows how Modi Govt always goes the extra mile to provide relief to people.”

Similarly, BJP Karnataka spokesperson Prakash also claimed, “This was not released due to Supreme Court intervention, but after obtaining permission from EC, the amount was released.”

Kodagu Mysuru incumbent MP Pratap Simha also thanked the prime minister.

‘Despite election code’

Former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa took to X to thank the centre and Modi for releasing funds.

Criticising the Siddaramaiah government, he said, “Instead of rushing to the aid of our food-giving farmers who were suffering under the shadow of a terrible drought, the state government was busy with its own petty political upheaval and mud-slinging.”

He emphasised that the Union government has permission to release the drought relief funds despite the election code being in force.

Gadag-Haveri Lok Sabha candidate from BJP and former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai claimed that the Modi government released the funds despite MCC (Model Code of Conduct) being in force.

Speaking to the reporters on Saturday in Haveri, Bommai criticised the state government, “They failed to follow certain rules to get that (drought relief fund) money but wasted time in politicising it.”

He added, “The money would have come to the state if the rules were followed. The centre has never said no to giving drought relief but was not in a position to release it due to the election code.”

Thanking the prime minister, Bommai said, “Releasing the money after obtaining the permission of the Election Commission shows the concern of Prime Minister Narendra Modi towards farmers.”

Also Read: Karnataka moves SC against Union government over drought relief

Congress refutes 

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took to X to thank the Supreme Court for intervening in the issue.

He wrote, “After persistent efforts & an appeal to the Supreme Court, we’ve secured ₹3,498.82 crore in drought relief from the Union Government. I wish to thank the Hon. Supreme Court. This is perhaps the first time in the history of India that a state was driven to the Supreme Court to enforce its rights.”

Further calling the funds insufficient, Siddaramaiah said, “It’s regrettable that we had to wait since September  2023 for a response.”

However, the chief minister said the fight for arrears would continue: “According to the NDRF rules, the state has to pay ₹18,171 crore, but the central government has only paid  ₹3498.98 crore approved, ₹3,454 crore released. This money is not for relief. Our fight for the arrears will continue.”

The chief minister asserted that the Centre has not released the funds out of concern for Karnataka but because of the Supreme Court’s intervention.

Calling on the people of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah said, “The relief is released even now because BJP leaders knew they wouldn’t be allowed to enter the state. If they want to show this as their (BJP) achievement, I request the people to give them a befitting reply. ”

Thanking the Centre for releasing these funds, Siddaramaiah emphasised the need to release the arrears and demanded correction of the injustice in tax distribution.

He wrote: “If they are really concerned about Karnataka, let them correct the injustice in tax distribution, the special grants recommended by the 15th Finance Commission, the recommended grants for conservation of lakes and the peripheral ring road, the grants announced in the budget for the Upper Bhadra.”

Also Read: Win for Karnataka as Centre tells SC it will decide on funds in a week

Timeline of drought relief request

Replying to a post by Karnataka BJP thanking the prime minister and criticising the Karnataka government for mishandling the drought, Siddaramaiah recalled the timeline of what his government did for the drought from September 2023.

The timeline mentions the state’s declaration of drought-affected taluks, a central committee report, Siddaramiah and state Finance Minister Byre Gowda meeting the prime minister and home minister, and finally, the state approaching the Supreme Court in March.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister and KPCC chief DK Shivakumar said, “The Union government has demonstrated its step-motherly treatment towards Kannadigas and the farmers of Karnataka by releasing only ₹3,454 crore out of the ₹18,172 crore requested by the state government.”

He added, “The Congress government is ready to accept any big challenges to protect the self-esteem of the farmers and Kannadigas of the state. We are asking for the rights of Kannadigas and not for alms.”

(Edited by Sumavarsha Kandula)