With sights set on winning voters, Karnataka CM Bommai to present interim budget on Friday

With the new government likely to present a budget post polls, Friday's interim budget - Vote on Account - speech is set to be a poll pitch.

ByBellie Thomas | Mahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 13, 2023 | 8:32 PMUpdatedFeb 13, 2023 | 8:33 PM

CM Bommai at the council

The last legislative session of the Basavaraj Bommai government is underway and Friday, 17 February,  will be the big day.

Bommai, who also holds the finance portfolio, will present an interim budget on Friday, 17 February. Although the House will pass the Vote on Account for the next two months, his speech is set to be replete with several ‘announcements’ to woo the voters.

A fresh full-term budget, as is the convention, will be presented by the newly elected government. The Karnataka assembly polls are expected to be held in May 2023.

Poll-centric budget

The vote on account speech is expected to include loud announcements on welfare schemes and programmes.

Sources from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) suggested that welfare schemes for the marginalised communities will find prominence in the interim budget. Friday’s speech will be Bommai’s second as the finance minister.

It is said that the interim budget will be election-centric, with huge stress on the development of the oppressed communities and farmer-friendly programmes.

The CMO told South First that the government has made a list of communities, especially the marginalised who work odd daily-wage jobs in the unorganised sector. The budget will announce welfare schemes for them.

“Communities like Kumbara, Kammara, Chemmara, Madiwala, Shourika, Nekkara, etc have been identified along with another 20 to 30 such communities in the state, who would be offered subsidised business loans so that they become self-employed. A majority of the people from the above communities are daily wagers doing odd jobs for their living,” CMO officials told South First.

Related: South First tracker: Efforts on to avoid a hung assembly

Welfare schemes for farmers

There are also welfare schemes for farmers. Earlier there were loans offered through societies to around 33 lakh farmers in the state, and this time, the government is planning to offer loans to a larger number of farmers — around 40 lakh who could avail of interest-free loans up to ₹3 lakh through societies.

Bommai is also expected to make an announcement for women. Under Gruhini Shakti, the Bommai government is set to announce ₹1,500 for women heads of BPL families for meeting their monthly expenses.

The BJP announced the scheme two days after the Congress in a rally announced the Gruha Lakshmi scheme, assuring ₹2,000 per woman head of households every month.

“The government is planning to clear all the pending bills in this budget session,” party sources claimed. However, the details of the pending bills were not mentioned.

No desire to become a minister: Eshwarappa 

BJP senior MLAs K S Eshwarappa and Ramesh Jarkiholi met the party high command and openly expressed dissent over the party not re-inducting them in the cabinet even after getting clean chit in their respective cases.

The duo had put pressure on Bommai to take them back. Bommai had talks with the party’s central leadership but did not receive a positive response. Now, Eshwarappa himself has hinted that a cabinet expansion is not likely.

“I have no more desire to be the minister. I will work on organising and strengthening the party to bring it back to power in the state,” Eshwarappa told reporters at the Vidhana Soudha on Monday.

On whether the chief minister foiled his bid to get back into the Cabinet, Eshwarappa said: “The party and central leaders will look into all the factors. The question of the individual does not arise. I am not ready to trouble either the party or the government. I have never demanded any position in the party and government in my over two decades’ political career.”

Watch: Congress’s ground strategy for Karnataka polls