Fissures Deepen as Congress-JDS Spar Over Kumaraswamy's Budget Ignoring Minorities
Senior Congress leader and former state minister, HK Patil, has written strongly worded letters to both Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah, asking them both to immediately revise budgetary allocations.
File photo of HD Kumaraswamy and G Parameshwara in Bengaluru. (File image: AP)
Bengaluru: With its Rs 34,000 crore bonanza for farmers, the Karnataka Budget this year was supposed to please one and all, however, it has led to certain friction between coalition partners JD(S) and Congress on who benefits most from the announcements.
Opposition BJP has been holding protests over the Budget completely overlooking certain regions of the state — especially Malnad (Western Ghats) and coastal Karnataka regions — while also claiming that it is skewed entirely to benefit the southern Karnataka/Old Mysore region. On the other hand, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who also holds the finance portfolio and presented the Budget on Thursday, also faced the ire of some among his allies.
Leaders from the minority community are crying foul that there are no programmes meant for those that significantly contributed to the Congress' victory in many Assembly segments.
Senior Congress leader and former state minister, HK Patil, has also written strongly worded letters to both Kumaraswamy and chairman of the coordination committee, Siddaramaiah, asking them both to immediately address the issue and revise budgetary allocations before it is passed in the legislature.
Patil has further asked Siddaramaiah to convene a meeting of the coordination committee as soon as possible so that both parties can address the matter and measures can be announced before the Budget is finally passed in the assembly.
"The mega loan waiver of Rs 34,000 crore for farmers who toil for us and who feed the country is a welcome step. But we must remember that this government is a coming-together of secular forces who have won the favour of the people. It is the minorities who have contributed to the Congress' win to the maximum extent in many Assembly constituencies, but they find no mention, no programme, or any special funds in the Budget. The first Budget of the coalition seems to have neglected the minority community almost entirely," HK Patil writes in his letter to Siddaramaiah.
Fissures seem to have developed between north Karnataka leaders of Congress (particularly those in the Mumbai-Karnataka region of Hubli-Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag) and their south Karnataka counterparts.
There has been a lot of discontent over the fact that prominent leaders of the north have not been given adequate representation in the Cabinet, especially those from the Lingayat community who had become a campaign issue themselves in the recently concluded Assembly elections.
Patil has further pointed out that the Karnataka coalition was at the forefront of a national unification of secular parties across the country ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, thus, neglecting minorities may not be a good idea in the run up to the general elections.
BJP, on the other hand, has grabbed the opportunity to taunt Congress for complying to JD(S)’ whims.
Many BJP leaders have pointed out that the Congress is meekly accepting schemes that do not appeal to the Congress vote bank — either by community or by region.
Siddaramaiah, on his part, said that the Budget may have been quiet on allocations to certain segments, but it has also vowed to continue all the programmes announced in the February Budget presented by him before the election.
"Whatever money allocations were promised in February, be it for SCs, backward classes or minorities, those allocations will continue," he told the media.
Speaking on “neglecting” the coastal region, HD Kumaraswamy said that allocations for the Old Mysore region was just over Rs 200 crore and he is being unfairly accused of favouring the region.
“We have allocated more than Rs 200 crore for the welfare of fishermen, why are they causing this furore about my region?” he asked.
Patil further raised the issue of underdeveloped regions of north Karnataka, saying the earlier Congress governments have considerably focussed on these areas, which is lacking in the current Budget.
"The people of north Karnataka had many expectations from this Budget. New taluks were set up under the previous government, most of which were in this region. People had hoped there would be some allocations or at least one special scheme to ensure basic infrastructure in these taluks, but there is nothing to address the regional imbalance of the north against the south," Patil wrote to Kumaraswamy.
He has asked the CM to announce reforms in his 'reply' to the discussion on the Finance Bill and ensure justice to the citizens of north Karnataka before it is passed in the legislature.
"The revised Budget has left the citizens of north Karnataka hurt. Respecting their sentiments should also be a priority for this government. I hope you will redress the regional imbalance issue before the Budget is finally passed," Patil, an MLA from Gadag district in north Karnataka, wrote in his letter to Kumaraswamy.
There have been reservations earlier expressed by other Congress MLAs that the JD(S) will end up claiming credit entirely for the big fat farm loan waiver it has announced. Congress leaders believe they should also get their share of the credit when it comes to seeking votes in the 2019 general elections.
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