BJP did nothing to get drought relief for Karnataka from the Union government: DK Shivakumar

He invited the BJP and the JD(S) leaders to join state Congress' protest in Delhi against 'injustice' to Karnataka by the Union government.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 04, 2024 | 7:35 PMUpdatedFeb 04, 2024 | 7:36 PM

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar speaks during Dakshin Dialogues 2023 in Bengaluru on Saturday, 7 October, 2023.

Accusing the BJP in Karnataka of not doing anything to get drought relief for the state from the Union government, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar on Sunday, 4 February, took a dig at the saffron party for targeting the Congress government, despite its best efforts to provide relief to the affected, besides implementing the guaranteed schemes.

He also invited the BJP and the JD(S) leaders to join the state Congress protest in Delhi in the coming days, against “injustice” to Karnataka by the Union government, concerning tax devolution and grants-in-aid, in the interests of the state.

“It has been 10 years since the Manmohan Singh government went. They (the BJP) should have sense. It is okay to have people without knowledge or education, but people have to be sensible. People have given you the power in the country, you also had a double engine government (BJP governments both at the Centre and in the state), but what did you do, is the question,” Shivakumar asked while speaking to reporters.

Also Read: BJP members protest outside Congress MP DK Suresh’s residence

Accuses BJP MPs of doing nothing

He was responding to a question on the Opposition BJP demanding the release of records on how much Karnataka got from the Union government towards drought and development works between 2004 and 2014 when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister and the Congress-led UPA was in power.

Pointing out that despite having 27 MPs (including one Independent and one from JD(S)) of the total of 28 from Karnataka, the deputy chief minister said the BJP could not get drought relief released to the state by holding a meeting with the Union government run by their party.

“Apart from doing whatever is necessary for drinking water supply, for the first time, the Siddaramaiah government has ensured that the affected farmers got ₹2,000 in their bank accounts as relief. The BJP is unable to digest it,” he said.

Claiming that the Union government had done injustice to Karnataka, Shivakumar further said instead of setting that right, by demanding records on funds released to the state during the UPA rule, the BJP seems to be accepting that injustice is happening during the NDA rule.

“We, the Congress lost the election, but you (the BJP) won with over 300 seats…let’s leave everything, in the last Union budget, Nirmala Sitharaman had said ₹5,300 crore will be given to the state’s Upper Bhadra irrigation project” and sought to know if even a single rupee had been released for the same.

“Let them (the BJP) say,” the KPCC chief, who is also the state’s irrigation minister, added.

Also Read: Karnataka incurred crop loss of ₹35,000 crore due to drought: CM

Protest in Delhi

All Congress lawmakers (including MPs) from the state, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, will protest in New Delhi on 7 February, against the “injustice” to Karnataka by the Union government when it comes to tax devolution and grants-in-aid.

“There is no other way. We have to raise our voices in the interest of the state. I request both the BJP and JD(S) to come and participate in it, in the interest of the state,” Shivakumar said.

Responding to BJP state president BY Vijayendra’s recent comments that people will not fall for the “gimmicky guarantees” of the Congress party as they know that the Modi guarantee is the best, Shivakumar said he (Vijayendra) is new to the post and is speaking new things and added that he didn’t want to discourage him.

“He (Vijayendra) has won a lottery and has become the state president in seven months (after the BJP’s defeat in the Assembly polls), it is like a share from his father’s (BS Yediyurappa) earnings…remember what Modi said about the Congress guarantees earlier? But, now taking a cue from the Congress’s guarantees, terms like Modi guarantees are being used by the BJP for the campaign,” he added.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on 1 January said that the state incurred a crop loss of ₹35,000 crore in 48 lakh hectares due to the drought and asserted that relief from the government will not be sufficient if nature does not support it.

By November 2023, a total of 223 taluks — out of the total of 236 taluks in the state — were declared drought-affected.

Also Read: Karnataka has to wait for Union government panel’s decision on the quantum of drought relief

Seeking relief funds from the Union govt

On 19 December 2023, Siddaramaiah met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and requested him to release drought relief funds amounting to ₹18,000 crore to the state at the earliest.

In his letter to the prime minister, Siddaramaiah stated that Karnataka has assessed the crop damage and is seeking an input subsidy of ₹4,663.12 crore from the National Disaster Response Funds (NDRF).

Around 48.19 lakh hectares of agriculture and horticulture crops have suffered losses ranging from 33 percent to 100 percent, with a majority of the areas reporting a loss of more than 80 percent.

Small and marginal farmers are the most affected, as about 83 percent of the land area under cultivation is covered under Small and Medium Farmholdings (SMF); hence, this land area is important to determine the input subsidy payable to the state, the chief minister’s letter stated.

Karnataka’s request is to consider the area under SMF holdings as per the Aadhaar-enabled FRUITS (Farmer Registration and Unified beneficiary InformaTion System) digital database and release the relief funds, Siddaramaiah’s letter stated.

The 2015-16 agriculture census shows that in Karnataka, 43.94 percent of the land area belongs to SMF holdings. However, as per the FRUITS database, 83 percent of the land is covered by holdings that belong to small and marginal farmers.

The chief minister also met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting drought relief funds.

Also Read: ‘Crops in 48.19 lakh hectare affected,’ Siddaramaiah tells Amit Shah

Central team’s visit to Karnataka

On 27 October, Siddaramaiah questioned the Union government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged delay in providing drought relief to the state and asked whether the BJP government was taking “revenge” on the state.

He pointed out that a central team that visited Karnataka to study the situation was convinced about the drought, yet there was no response from Prime Minister Modi or the BJP-led NDA government.

The Karnataka government had, on 4 October, informed the 10-member, inter-ministerial central team (IMCT), which was on a four-day visit to take stock of the drought situation, that this time, the state was facing a “green drought” and requested that the assessment be made based on factors like crop growth and yield.

The IMCT, led by the Joint Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, met the Cabinet Subcommittee on Disaster Management — consisting of the state’s Cabinet ministers and top officials — and followed it up with a meeting with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

“We discussed the drought situation in detail with the Central team and have given them the entire picture of its effect, especially on the farmers and their financial condition. We also shared with them information on crop loss, estimates of loss — in how much acreage, along with data, statics, and spot inspection reports, for about two hours,” Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda had then said.

A green drought is generally understood to mean a period when there is limited rainfall due to which there is growth of new plants, but the growth is insubstantial.

Also Read: Siddaramaiah seeks ₹18,177 Cr drought relief fund for farmers from the Centre

(With PTI inputs)