Mixed bag of achievements as Siddaramaiah government completes one year in Karnataka

It has been a mixed bag of achievements and challenges for Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as he completes one year in office on Monday.

ByPTI

Published May 20, 2024 | 9:23 AMUpdatedMay 20, 2024 | 10:11 AM

CM Siddaramaiah during poll campaign

It has been a mixed bag of achievements and challenges for Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as he completes one year in office on Monday, 20 May.

Riding on the popularity of the five guarantees, namely ‘Shakti’, ‘Gruha Lakshmi’, ‘Gruha Jyoti, ‘Yuva Nidhi’ and ‘Anna Bhagya’, the Congress swept to power in the state a year ago, defeating the ruling BJP, headed by the then chief minister Basavaraj Bommai.

Within a month of taking over, the government launched the Shakti scheme offering free rides to Karnataka women in non-luxury government buses.

According to the Karnataka Transport Department officials, women have availed of as many as 210.29 crore free rides in the state, costing the state exchequer ₹5,097 crore till 17 May from the date of launch of the scheme on 11 June 2023.

Also Read: Guarantee schemes pulling 1.2 crore families out of poverty

Implemented guarantees

The government has introduced the Gruha Jyoti promising 200 units of free electricity for household connections benefiting approximately 1.5 crore families. The state government earmarked ₹9,657 crore for the year 2024-25.

While the Bhagya Lakshmi scheme providing ₹2,000 to the women heads of families below the poverty line has been started, benefitting about nearly one crore families, Yuva Nidhi guarantee offering ₹3,000 to graduates and ₹1,500 to diploma holders who passed in the academic year 2022-23 is yet to take off.

Under the Anna Bhagya guarantee, the government promised to give10 kg food grains to each beneficiary every month, which comprises of the Centre’s share of five kg rice. The state government wished to give an additional five kg food grains and had approached the Centre for, it but citing lack of adequate stock of food grains, it declined to assist Karnataka.

Accusing the Centre of scuttling the welfare scheme, the state government began giving money to the beneficiaries to purchase food grains from the open market. According to a government officer, the money is deposited into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.

Also Read: Karnataka moves SC against Centre seeking immediate release of NDRF funds

Drought blues

While the government was ready for the financial implications of these guarantees, what it was not prepared for was the natural calamity that struck Karnataka in 2023 when acute drought hit the state.

Siddaramaiah said Karnataka had not seen a drought of this magnitude in the last 100 years. Out of 236 Taluks, 226 have been declared drought affected.

The state government looked for Central assistance and requested the Union government to release ₹18,171 crore but when nothing came forth, it approached the Supreme Court. The Centre then released ₹3,454 crore as it drew flak from the apex court.

Siddaramaiah is expecting a good show in the 2024 Lok Sabha election unlike 2019 when his party won only one out of 28 Lok Sabha seats while the saffron party bagged 25 seats and an independent with the BJP’s backing too made it to the Lower House of Parliament.

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

Law and order

However, law and order posed a big challenge to the government giving ammunition to the BJP in the midst of the Lok Sabha election. In the past four months, the state has witnessed a bomb blast in a cafe, allegations that pro-Pakistan slogans were raised in the corridors of Vidhana Soudha and the fatal stabbing of 23-year-old Neha Hiremath and 21-year-old Anjali Ambigera in Hubballi.

While Neha was murdered by Fayaz Khodunaik, her former classmate, within a few weeks Anjali was stabbed to death by her neighbour Girish Sawant, who had threatened that she would face the same fate as Neha.

The BJP has blamed the government for the breakdown of law and order and the state of Karnataka’s finances.

“The Home Department is no more in the hands of Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara,” Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka assembly R Ashoka claimed at a press conference on Sunday, 19 May.

“It has gone into someone else’s hands. Incidents of murders, robbery and dacoity have increased. The arrival of Congress has come as a boon for criminals,” he further alleged.

Anjali Ambigera’s family want the accused to be hanged, he said, “but today the government itself is standing as an accused.”

Also Read: Will DK Shivakumar become CM of Karnataka?

Power struggle

The Opposition party has also been suggesting that there is a power struggle between Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar, which allegedly is affecting the functioning of the government.

There were reports when Congress came to power that there is an agreement between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, who is also the Congress Karnataka unit chief, that the former will be the CM for the first half of the five-year term.

After two-and-half years, Shivakumar will head the government, according to the reports. However, there is no confirmation from the Congress about it.

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