Siddaramaiah government looks to use ₹11,000 crore SCP/TSP funds to implement poll guarantees

A total of ₹7,570 crore of SCP and ₹3,430 crore TSP funds will be utilised for the five poll guarantees, claimed the Social Welfare Minister.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Aug 02, 2023 | 6:19 PM Updated Aug 02, 2023 | 6:22 PM

Karnataka Siddaramaiah Congress Gurha Jyothi 10 units Basavanna SC ST

The Congress, which vehemently opposed the diversion of the Scheduled Castes sub-plan and Tribes sub-plan funds towards other schemes when in Opposition, is looking to do just that when in government.

Condemning the Congress government’s move to utilise ₹11,000 crore of Special Component Plan (SCP)/Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) funds to implement their five poll guarantees — the BJP’s Karnataka unit will launch statewide protests on Friday, 4 August.

The Siddaramaiah-led government has decided to utilise around 28 percent (₹11,000 crore) of the SCP/TSP funds allocated for the 2023-24 fiscal year to implement its five poll guarantees, as per Minister for Social Welfare Dr HC Mahadevappa.

Poll guarantees & budget allocations

With regard to the five poll guarantees, the state government has claimed that it needs ₹39,757 crore to implement the guarantees for the 2023-24 fiscal year and ₹52,000 crore annually.

The Congress government has already implemented three of the five guarantees. The Shakti scheme was launched on 11 June, while Anna Bhagya and Gruha Jyothi were launched on 1 July.

The government has kickstarted the registration process for the Gruha Lakshmi scheme, which is likely to be launched either on 16 or 17 August. The government is yet to announce the launch date for Yuva Nidhi.

In the 2023-24 fiscal budget, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah allocated ₹34,294 crore for SCP/TSP, which is 24.10 percent of the total budgetary allocation.

Of the total SCP/TSP funds, ₹24,333 crore was allocated to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and ₹9,961 crore to Scheduled Tribes (STs).

The state government passed the Karnataka Scheduled Castes Sub-Allocation and Tribal-Sub Allocation (Planning, Allocation and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Act of 2013 and Rules 2017 to ensure the allocation of 24.1 percent of the total budgetary allocation to SCs and STs.

The latest move by the Siddaramaiah-led government received severe criticism from the Opposition, which has decided to launch statewide protests on Friday.

Also read: Is TN diverting money set aside for Dalits to fund its new scheme?

Government to divert SCP/TSP funds 

A total of ₹7,570 crore of SCP funds and ₹3,430 crore of TSP funds will be utilised for the guarantees, claimed the Social Welfare Minister.

Of the total SCP/TSP funds, the government allocated ₹5,790.67 crore for the Women and Child Welfare Department, ₹5,400.98 crore for the Power Department, ₹4,041.78 crore for the Revenue Department, ₹3,787.29 crore for SC Welfare, ₹1,387.35 crore for ST Welfare, ₹2,779.97 crore for the Food and Civil Supplies Department, ₹2,349.85 crore for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, and the remaining for other departments.

Talking to reporters, minister HC Mahadevappa announced, “It has been decided to allocate 28 percent of the SCP/TSP funds to the five guarantees. The allocated funds will be utilised only for SC/ST beneficiaries of the five guarantees.”

He added: “The beneficiaries (SC/ST) will not travel only once in the state-run buses under Shakti Scheme, but many times. We need to allocate more funds. Currently, we do not have statistics on how many SC/ST people are being benefitted by these guarantees.”

When asked about the legality of diverting funds meant for SCs and STs to implement poll guarantees, Mahadevappa retorted, “The registration for a few guarantees is still underway. We do not know the exact beneficiaries. If there is excess, the Chief Minister has strictly instructed to return the allocated grants (SCP/TSP) to the Social Welfare Department. Can we run and hide from this?”

He added, “Of the 24.1 percent of SCP/TSP funds, we will utilise it only for our SC/ST population. The people from these two communities are beneficiaries of all the schemes, whether it is Gruha Jyothi or Gruha Lakshmi.”

Also Read: No development funds this year, Dy CM Shivakumar tells MLAs

Hypocrisy or necessity?

It may be noted that in April 2022, Siddaramaiah accused the then-ruling BJP government in the state of diverting funds to the tune of ₹7,885 crore meant for SCP/TSP grants for infrastructural projects.

Opposing this, he had said, “The BJP government in the state has betrayed the SC/ST population by diverting the SCP/TSP funds. The government has violated the provisions of the Act and it is against the law.”

It may also be recalled that the Siddaramaiah-led state government has recently amended Section 7(D) of the Karnataka Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (Planning, Allocation, and Utilisation of Financial Resources) Act 2013.

This section allows the utilisation of funds in exceptional circumstances for projects that couldn’t be easily divided, labelling such spending as deemed expenditure.

Also Read: Karnataka depts failed to surrender unspent funds in 2021-22

Congress is anti-Dalit: BJP leaders

The Opposition BJP has reacted sharply to the Siddaramaiah-led government’s move to divert the SCP/TSP funds for the five guarantees and has termed the state government as “anti-Dalit”.

BJP’s senior Dalit leader and former minister Govind Karjol told South First, “The Congress government and its leaders thump their chest while making claims that they are concerned about the social welfare of Dalits and the other oppressed communities. They are anti-Dalits.”

“They must work towards bringing these backward and oppressed communities to the mainstream and should not leave them on the streets to beg. These five guarantees are meant for all the communities and it is an offence to divert the SCP/TSP funds to implement their poll manifesto,” charged Karjol.

He further said, “The SCP/TSP funds are meant to be utilised towards the upliftment of SCs and STs. These funds should be utilised to build schools and hostels, to provide education, employment, and lands for both the communities.”

“The state government is doing vendetta politics. It has stopped all the ongoing projects, including construction of 156 residential schools and 75 hostels that were initiated by our (BJP) government under the SCP/TSP funds. Priority should be given to the ongoing projects, which are worth ₹2,500 crore, not to divert the grants to implement guarantees. We will vehemently oppose this decision of the Congress government,” condemned Karjol.

Additionally, BJP MLC Chalavadi Narayanaswamy told South First, “The Chief Minister and his two Cabinet colleagues Mahadevappa and Priyank Kharge are conning the Dalits of this state.”

“The SCP/TSP grants cannot be diverted or utilised for general schemes. It is against the norms. We have decided to launch a statewide protests against the Siddaramaiah government on Friday. We will create awareness among Dalits,” added the BJP legislator.

Also Read: Karnataka CM presents a revenue-deficient budget

Bahutva Karnataka oppose diversion of funds  

Bahutva Karnataka — a renowned civil society group — also opposed the Siddaramaiah-led government’s decision to allocate 28 percent of the SCP/TSP funds to their five guarantees.

Bahutva Karnataka member Vinay K Sreenivas told South First, “It is not right on the part of the state government to allocate SCP/TSP funds to implement guarantees. It clearly violates the law, which was brought by them in the previous regime.”

“The government might technically claim that the SCP/TSP funds are being utilised only for the SC/ST beneficiaries of these guarantees, but it is against the law as these guarantees are general schemes and meant for all the communities,” he echoed.

“It is against the spirit of the Act. It also sets a bad precedent for the upcoming governments. It is also wrong that the state government has not taken any Dalits or its organisations into confidence while diverting the grants meant for SC/ST,” added Vinay.