Bengaluru: Taking a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday began his budget speech of 2017 with a definition of ‘Ram Rajya’.
Ram Rajya is a much touted concept of the BJP as a model of the ideal state.
“Ram Rajya is a concept representing hunger-free, exploitation-free, overall development, with deep-rooted harmony. Be it inspiration behind the Constitution drafted by Ambedkar, the life of Gandhiji saying ‘my life is my message’ or Basavanna’s ideals, all say the same,” Siddaramaiah said in the House on Wednesday.
“It is my belief that Ram Rajya cannot be built by those who oppose the concept of social justice,” he added.
“Somehow this juvenile impression has crept in… that pro-people government means anti-development government. But our government has succeeded in dispelling that myth… the same government that is acknowledged as pro-social justice has propelled the state to first position in the country for investments,” he said.
The irony was not lost on the Assembly where the BJP is the main Opposition.
This comes a few day after BJP won elections in the India’s largest State – Uttar Pradesh -- with a thumping majority. This is also the state that has seen controversial statements over the construction of a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
“It was the CM’s idea to include Ram Rajya in the budget speech. Everyone talks of development, and not enough about social inclusiveness. Karnataka has achieved both,” said an official who has closely worked on the budget.
The speech also comes in the wake of accusations of bias made by the state government against the Centre. The state government had earlier said that neither adequate drought relief, nor funds for other programmes have been made available by the Central government which is ruled by the BJP.
As the budget was presented a year before state polls, It was dripping with populist measures and freebies particularly for people of the SC, ST and OBC communities who together form a majority of the state’s population.
The state government has also been miffed with central agencies for the “step-motherly” approach towards Karnataka in implementing schemes such as the subsidised LPG scheme under PaHaL.
“I assume they are waiting for elections before they start giving out subsidised LPG connections in Karnataka. There are 3.5 lakh applicants of below-poverty-line families who have been waiting for more than a year to benefit from this scheme,” said Food and Civil Supplies Minister U T Khader.
Apparently trying to steal some of the sheen off such schemes, the government announced its own subsidies to LPG connections that could benefit 5 lakh BPL families that are left out of the Central scheme. Rs 100 crore has been set aside for LPG connections to 2 lakh SC, ST families in particular.“Centre is only giving an LPG connection and cylinder. Karnataka’s ‘anila bhagya’ scheme will give free gas stoves to those getting connections under the Central scheme. Additionally, we will give free cylinders and stoves to those who don’t meet the criteria for the Central programme,” said Khader.