An RTI reply on expenditure on two CMs’ oath-taking ceremony shows that Karnataka's HD Kumaraswamy is overdoing things despite his tall claims of austerity. The state government had spent Rs 15,93,000 for high tea when BS Yeddyurappa took oath as CM inside the Glass House of governor's office on May 17. The oath-taking ceremony lasted only for five minutes. He had to submit his resignation after failing to prove his majority in the Assembly. Few days later, Kumaraswamy spent nearly Rs 43 lakh for his ceremony at Vidhana Soudha.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who preached austerity, stands exposed. His double standards were revealed through a Right To Information (RTI) query in Bengaluru.
On July 5, Kumaraswamy, hailed as the farmers’ leader, presented a favourable budget to them as he waved off crop loans as promised before the polls in May. While helping the farmers, the JD(S) CM burdened the middle class with fuel and power tariff hikes. After he took over as state CM, Kumaraswamy has emphasised on cutting costs. He was against additional spending on the remodelling of government offices and also asked Department of Personnel Administrative Reforms (DPAR) not to buy new cars for legislators. But all this talk seems to be hollow, as shown by a reply to an RTI query. Kumaraswamy has spent a whopping Rs 42,89,940 for his oath-taking ceremony which lasted for only five minutes! It translates to more than Rs 8 lakh per minute. It is such a waste of tax payers’ money.
This large amount was spent just on decoration and high tea at Vidhana Soudha. This fund did not include the accommodation and transportation facilities for the high profile guests including Chief Ministers of various states, who came for the event. Apart from the vast amount spent on his swearing-in ceremony, there are three primary reasons of Kumaraswamy’s hypocrisies, which were apparent in his budget.
Kumaraswamy, son of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, said he would take the risk of waiving farm loans amounting to Rs 34,000 crore. This posed as a major challenge to him. He did his job to waive off crop loans of up to Rs 2 lakh. But now it has emerged that Bengaluru Mayor R Sampath Raj and his deputy Padmavathi Narasimhamurthy promised to chip in for the loan waiver scheme as they and the rest of the Bengaluru councillors will contribute their two months’ wages. All 198 corporators, cutting across party lines, offered to donate their two-month income to assist the government in the farm loan waiving scheme.
Kumaraswamy claimed that he would make up for the deficit by bringing in austerity measures besides raising funds through markets. The first mechanism has never paid dividends as it is impossible to raise considerable funds needed for a loan waiver by imposing austerity measures.
Considering the buoyancy in the market, a state like Karnataka can borrow loans, but the effectiveness of programmes implementation will be a big worry for him.
The BJP had a field day as Kumaraswamy announced a tax hike for petrol and diesel. The party used the above-Rs-1-per-litre hike by the Congress-JD(S) government in the state to hit back at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who recently threw a "fuel challenge" at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The first budget of Kumaraswamy will cost the treasury Rs. 34,000 crore, for loan waiver. For revenue, the Karnataka government has turned to a marginal increase in the prices for electricity, tax for liquor and fuel.
In May, Congress had launched an attack on the NDA government over hike in fuel prices. The party demanded a decrease in petrol and diesel taxes or bringing them under the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Gandhi had targeted the Prime Minister repeatedly, tweeting "is this a joke" when fuel prices came down by one paisa on May 30. Petrol and diesel prices were raised again after a gap of 36 days. In this period, the petrol prices were cut 22 times and diesel 18 times. Petrol prices were increased by 16 to 17 paise in metro cities and the diesel price was hiked by 10-12 paise.
Kumaraswamy went to Karnataka’s coastal areas to seek God’s blessings at various temples, but there is a rumour that the absence of JD(S) in the coastal districts denied the region of any budget benefits. Various sections of the society have raised this doubt as the budget has not given any specific project to the coastal areas of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada.
People of coastal districts feel that the concern which Kumaraswamy used to express about the problems of areca nut growers, fishermen and infrastructure in the coastal region before the elections, has failed to translate into projects. Earlier, he had also declared that though his party may not get any seat in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, he would work for the development of these regions. But the budget has failed to give any schemes to both districts. People feel they have been targeted as they did not support JD(S).
BJP leaders too expressed their anger at this. During Kumaraswamy's meeting with the intellectuals in Mangaluru in March, he had defined Mangaluru as the most important city next to Bengaluru and had stressed the need for the development of Mangaluru. But in his entire budget speech, there is no mention of Mangaluru. The coastal districts provide the highest revenue to the state government, and now they are neglected.
He has provided help to the horticulture growers of old Mysuru region but not coastal people. Usually, budgets declare some programmes for fishermen. But in this budget, there is nothing for them. Even in fishing, he has announced help for inland fishing. It is sea fishing which helps in securing foreign exchange and revenue for the government.
An RTI reply on expenditure on two CMs’ oath-taking ceremony shows that Kumaraswamy is overdoing things despite his tall claims of austerity. The state government had spent Rs 15,93,000 for high tea when BS Yeddyurappa took oath as CM inside the Glass House of governor's office on May 17. The oath-taking ceremony lasted only for five minutes. He had to submit his resignation after failing to prove his majority in the Assembly. Few days later, Kumaraswamy spent nearly Rs 43 lakh for his ceremony at Vidhana Soudha.
Read Exclusive COVID-19 Coronavirus News updates, at MyNation.
Last Updated 8, Jul 2018, 11:35 AM