Will he or will he not? – All eyes on Siddharamaiah as he walks the tightrope
Bengaluru: All eyes are set on the Karnataka Cabinet meeting that began this noon chaired by Chief Minister Siddharamaiah where a decision will be taken on implementing the five guarantees promised by the ruling Congress during the Assembly elections in May.
During the election campaign, Congress leader and former Party President Rahul Gandhi had said these schemes will be implemented on the day the Government took over.
However, Chief Minister Siddharamaiah, after assuming power on May 20, said the Government has agreed in principle to implement the guarantees and sought time till the second Cabinet meeting (today).
The Cabinet meeting began at around 11.30 am and was still under progress when we went to press. On their part, the Opposition BJP is also waiting with bated breath to see how the Congress implements these guarantees, which according to them, will push the State towards bankruptcy.
Before this noon’s Cabinet meeting, the CM has been calling marathon meetings with various Department Officials and senior Secretaries since the last two days. Even this morning, a detailed meeting with officers, Chief Secretary and Secretaries was held to discuss the details and financial implications that were looked into.
The CM apparently told the Officers that whatever the financial implications may be, the Government has to fulfil the five guarantee schemes or else, the issue will hit the party in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Officers have been told to manage the finances till the LS elections and take a call on promises later, sources added.
The five ‘main’ guarantees promised by the party in its poll manifesto are — 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti); Rs. 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi); 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya); Rs. 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youth and Rs. 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (Yuva Nidhi) and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti).
Kempanna meets CM Siddharamaiah
Meanwhile, the members of Karnataka State Contractors Association, who made the ‘40 percent commission’ allegation against the previous BJP Government, also met CM Siddharamaiah in Bengaluru this morning, under the leadership of Association’s President D. Kempanna. Sources are, however, tight-lipped about what transpired at the meeting.
Notably, ‘40 percent commission’ charges was one of the striking issues in the recently held Assembly polls which many experts believe dented BJP’s campaign. The BJP has already accused Siddharamaiah of instigating Kempanna to launch the ‘40 percent’ campaign without having any basis.
Highly placed sources told Star of Mysore that the Government may immediately implement only three of the five poll guarantees — 200 units of free power, 10kg of rice per person in a Below Poverty Line (BPL) family and free travel for women in State-run buses.
The other two promises — Rs. 2,000 per month for woman head of the family and Rs. 3,000 for unemployed graduates — may be fulfilled only post the State Budget session. The immediate plan may give ammunition to the BJP that may protest over ‘betrayal of promise’. The BJP has said that it will take to the streets if the Government fails to fulfil the promises without any conditions.