On the inaugural day of the Prajadhwani Yatre, the Karnataka unit of the Congress announced the “GruhaJyoti Bhagya” — free 200 units of electricity for every house in Karnataka — if it is voted to power in the state.
Congress leaders claimed that the party would make five poll promises during the first leg of the Prajadhwani Yatre.
The party announced the “Gruhajyoti Bhagya” scheme for all the houses in the state during the first poll campaign event held at Chikkodi town in Belagavi on Wednesday, 11 January.
The Congress seems to have taken a leaf out of the poll promises of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab and Delhi on free electricity to announce the largescale welfare scheme.
The Delhi and Punjab governments have announced 200 and 300 units of electricity, respectively, free of cost to all households, which was one of the main poll promises of the AAP.
Responding to this, bureaucrat-turned-politician Bhaskar Rao, who is associated with AAP in Bengaluru, said: “It is good that the Grand Old Party is learning to respond to the people’s requirement. It is our (AAP’s) poll promise.”
The former IPS added: “Let people get free power. We will go ahead with our poll promises. We will not make any changes in our manifesto.”
The Gruhajyoti Bhagya scheme
Shivakumar announced in Chikodi: “The Congress gives its word. The first guarantee is to eradicate darkness and bring light to all houses, including in rural areas, in Karnataka. 200 units of free power will be given for every house.”
He added: “There is no necessity for anyone to pay the electricity bill. The youths and farmers can have free power up to 200 units. This is one of the five promises from the party to the people of this state.”
He also said: “We fulfilled all the promises made in the 2013 Assembly polls. The Congress will stand by its word. It is time to dethrone the B-report BJP government and return to power.”
Shivakumar added: “It is time to build Karnataka as per the wishes of Basavanna, Kuvempu, Shashinala Sharif, and other prominent personalities.”
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Prajadhwani Yatre starts in Belagavi
While the BJP has launched its Janasankalpa Yatre and the JD(S) is carrying out its Pancharatna Yatre ahead of 2203 assembly polls, it was the Congress’ turn this time as it officially kicked off the poll campaigning with the Prajadhwani Yatre in Belagavi.
Before heading to the Chikodi Assembly segment, AICC general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Randeep Surjewala, who is in charge of Karnataka Congress, CLP leader Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar, and all the other senior party leaders offered prayers at the Gandhi Well in Veerasoudha in Belagavi.
Apart from this, the party leaders also carried out a cleanliness drive on the main roads of Belagavi city.
Under this yatre, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are expected to jointly tour about 22 districts for the poll campaigning. It will conclude in Bidar on 28 January.
‘Factory of lies’
Congress leaders, including Surjewala, took the Basavaraj Bommai-led Karnataka government to task, with allegations of poor governance and corruption.
The Chikkodi Assembly segment is represented by Ganesh Hukkeri, who is the son of veteran politician and MLC Prakash Hukkeri.
Addressing the gathering, Surjewala said: “The BJP stands for 3Cs – Corruption, Commission, and Communalism — in Karnataka. Corruption is at all corners of the state under the BJP. To save Karnataka, the BJP must be thrown out of power.”
He added: “Karnataka had its own brand at global platforms for investment, tourism, and other sectors. However, due to an increase in communal tensions and poor governance, it is under threat.”
He explained: “The major companies, employment and all the other infrastructure are moving to Gujarat. Bommai has failed to protect Brand Karnataka.”
He further said: “This yatre is not the voice of Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar; it is the people’s voice. There is a necessity not only to change the government but also the system in Karnataka.”
Surjewala also said: “The Congress’ only mantra is development. If the party is voted to power, we will ensure the speedy implementation of all the major irrigation and drinking projects, including the Mahadayi and Upper Krishna Projects, in the state.”
Siddaramaiah said: “Being in power for the last three-and-a-half years, the BJP has achieved nothing. Though the Congress did not promise a farm loan waiver, our government waived ₹8,165 crore of loan. It helped over 22 lakh farmers.”
He added: “The BJP government made a promise in the run-up to the 2018 Assembly polls of waiving farm loans of national banks, but it did not stand by its word. The BJP is a factory of lies.”
The next yatre will be held in the Vijayanagara and Koppal district on 17 January.
‘Irresponsible and irrational’
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday, 12 January, dismissed as “irresponsible and irrational” the election promise made by the Congress to provide 200 units of free power to all households every month if voted to power in the state.
He also said the announcement showed “how low they are in the electoral race”.
“It is an irresponsible and irrational decision. They (Congress) are desperate. That’s why they are announcing. Many more such announcements are expected from Congress,” Bommai told reporters in Hubballi during the inaugural function of the National Youth Festival.
“You expect more (freebies) because of the desperation”, Bommai said.