Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah says no dearth of funds for development, lashes out at BJP for peddling lies

Siddaramaiah was interacting with the media on his government completing one year in office, during the ‘Meet the Press’ event organised by the Press Club of Bangalore on Monday, 20 May.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 21, 2024 | 12:30 AM Updated May 21, 2024 | 12:32 AM

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah Deputy CM DK Shivakumar Guarantees PM Narendra Modi BJP Muslims Hindus

Criticising the opposition BJP for misleading the public, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah reiterated that there is no dearth of grants and that the government has exceeded the expenditure earmarked for the development works of several departments for the fiscal year 2023-24.

Siddaramaiah was interacting with the media on his government completing one year in office, during the ‘Meet the Press’ event organised by the Press Club of Bangalore on Monday, 20 May.

In his over one-hour interaction, the chief minister claimed that the government’s five guarantees have reached over 4.3 crore families, providing benefits ranging from ₹4,000 to ₹5,000 per month to each family.

On the allegations of guarantees affecting development works in the state, Siddaramaiah denied the claims and pointed out that the expenditure of several departments exceeds the allocated grants.

He lashed out at the BJP for making misleading claims on the guarantees and the state’s financial status. Siddaramaiah also expressed support for the caste census, asserting that it would not affect any communities.

“Even if the caste census report disturbs anyone, the government will address it,” the chief minister said, adding that caste census would help in building a more equitable society.

On increasing crime against women in Karnataka, he claimed that the number of murders has decreased compared to the previous years. “The wellness of the society is more important than statistics. We have issued strict instructions to the authorities to prevent crime,” stated Siddaramaiah.

Siddaramaiah lashed out at the Narendra Modi-led-Union government for reportedly not cooperating with the state in disbursing the drought relief funds.

“The state government was compelled to approach the Supreme Court seeking drought relief grants from the centre. The Modi government released only ₹3,454 crore against the demands of ₹18,171 crore,” he said.

Also Read: No Cabinet reshuffle on cards post Lok Sabha election: CM Siddaramaiah

‘Guarantees haven’t affected development works’ 

Siddaramaiah asserted that the state government’s five guarantees have not hindered the development works across the state and will continue even after the Lok Sabha polls.

He told reporters, “As promised by the Congress, after the oath-taking ceremony on 20 May, the government issued an order to implement five guarantees in the very first cabinet meeting.”

“We implemented the Shakti Scheme on 11 June. A total of 201.32 crore free rides have been taken by women and cost ₹4,857.95 crore. Anna Bhagya scheme was implemented in July 2023, which cost ₹5,754.6 crore,” he said.

“Gruha Jyothi and Gruha Lakshmi schemes benefited 1.6 crore families and 1.20 crore women, respectively, at a cost ₹7,436 crore and ₹20,293 crore, respectively,” the chief minister further said.

“Yuva Nidhi was launched in January 2024. The government is providing financial assistance to over 20,000 unemployed youth,” he said adding that the government is also providing skill development training to the beneficiaries.

Siddaramaiah recalled the lack of cooperation from the Union government in implementing the Anna Bhagya scheme effectively.

When asked how the government is mobilising its resources to fund guarantees, Siddaramaiah said, “We will increase tax collection, take loans and tighten the administration to curb the corruption to mobilise resources for the guarantees.”

“We were hit by harsh drought this year, affecting the production and leading to a downturn in business. We have spent ₹36,000 crore to implement five guarantees for the fiscal year 2023-24. We have also earmarked ₹52,000 crore for the guarantees for the ongoing fiscal year,” the chief minister said, reiterating that there is no dearth of funds.

Also Read: BJP chief Vijayendra targets Siddaramaiah govt over law and order situation in state

‘BJP leaders do not understand economics’

Lashing out at the BJP for criticising the Congress’ guarantees, Siddaramaiah said, “I don’t know whether BJP leaders including Vijayendra (state president) and R Ashoka (opposition leader) understand economics.”

“That is why they are lying that the treasury is empty. We had announced in the budget that we would spend ₹54,374 crores for development works other than guarantees. But we spent ₹56,274 crores (capital expenditure). That means we have spent more than what was declared in the budget, ” the chief minister said.

“We had said in the budget that ₹16,360 crore would be spent for irrigation works, but we have spent ₹18,198 crores, which is more than what was promised. Similarly, we have spent ₹9,661 crore against the allocated ₹9,722 crore in the Department of Public Works,” he said.

Siddaramaiah questioned the BJP whether it would have been possible to spend so much for the government if the treasury was empty.

On the development of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, the chief minister further said, “We have given reservation for works up to ₹1 crore to SC/ST contractors for social welfare. The SCP/TSP Act was implemented by our government. Let Modi stop lying and answer as to why the BJP-ruled governments have not implemented the Act.”

“Modi is telling another lie that we will take away the reservation from the backward class and give it to the Muslims. This is an outright lie,” charged Siddaramaiah.

He said, “The Muslim reservation has been in place in the state for 30 years. The Bommai government has also submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court and has agreed that it will not cancel the reservation for Muslims.”

“However, Modi is going around telling lies in his speeches. We have not taken away anyone’s reservation. So, what Modi is saying is an absolute lie. BJP and Modi should stop inciting and misleading people for elections. People are aware of the BJP’s lies,” the chief minister said.

Also Read: Mixed bag of achievements as Siddaramaiah government completes one year in K’taka

Siddaramaiah on caste census

On caste census, Siddaramaiah reiterated that it would not harm any communities and asserted that “Even if the caste survey causes any issues, the government will try to address it.”

He told reporters, “Several people including you (media) said that the caste census report will not be accepted as Siddaramaiah do not have courage to accept it.”

“It will not affect anyone. If it causes issues, then an effort will be made to address it. We have spent ₹262 crore for this socio-economic and education survey, which is deemed as a caste census. It was done during my previous regime,” he said.

The chief minister continued, “The main intention of the caste census is to ascertain which communities are still economically, socially and educationally backward, even after so many years of independence. Shouldn’t we give preferential treatment to such communities?”

“If there is no preferential treatment for socio-economically and educationally backward communities, then how can we build an equal society?” he asked.

“We should at least be aware, who all are economically and educationally weaker. How would we know without conducting socio-economic surveys? How to provide them preferential treatment?” the chief minister asked.

He further pointed out, “Hence, I had ordered a socio-economic survey and entrusted it to the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes. If it had been completed in my tenure, I would have accepted it. But I couldn’t.”

“Now, we have accepted it. It will not harm anyone. Modi has given 10 percent reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS). Please enlighten me on who all are included in the EWS. Are there any communities that are not under reservation cap in this country?” asked the chief minister.

“There is no meaning in opposing reservation. The Congress has announced in the manifesto that if their party is voted to power, then they will conduct a caste census. What is wrong with this? BJP has wrongly interpreted and misled the public on this stance (of Congress),” Siddaramaiah hit out at the BJP.

“We have received the census report. We have not gone through it. We will bring it to the cabinet and carry out further procedures,” he said.

Also Read: Karnataka government to probe factors for repeated attacks on young women

CM admits lapses by police in Anjali murder case

The chief minister also lashed out at the Union government for not responding to numerous pleas of the state government to provide drought relief grants as per the NDRF norms.

“We were compelled to approach the court for drought relief as even after pursuing it with the centre for seven months they did not respond. They have released ₹3,454 crore against the demand of ₹18,171 crore. We are still fighting it in the court demanding the grants as per the norms,” Siddaramaiah said.

Nearly a week after Anjali Ambiger’s murder, Siddaramaiah admitted the lapses from the police and assured of tightening law and order in the state.

Siddaramaiah said: “I admit that there were lapses by the police in the Anjali case. As per prima facie evidence, it was found that the police could have prevented this murder.”

“Hence, we have suspended the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Traffic), Police Inspector and Women Head Constable on the charges of dereliction of duty,” he said.

When asked about the increasing crimes, especially against women, the chief minister said, “The number of murders has decreased this year compared to the previous years’ statistics. But the wellness of the society is more important than statistics.”

“I have issued strict instructions to the authorities to prevent crime. We will take necessary measures to prevent the crime against women,” assured Siddaramaiah.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)