New Congress government in Karnataka swears by welfare economics


Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi

Mint-fresh Karnataka Congress government headed by S Siddaramaiah on Saturday hit the ground running by giving in-principle clearance to the five Guarantees the party gave to the people – welfare schemes aimed at the poor, women, and youth – in the first cabinet meeting.

When we promise, we deliver is the line that the Congress leaders – from former party chief Rahul Gandhi to AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge to CM Siddaramaiah and Deputy CM DK Shivakumar – maintained from the moment the opposition political stars from across the country congregated for the swearing-in ceremony of the Congress-led Karnataka government, after scoring a huge victory in the just concluded assembly elections. The BJP government headed by Basavaraj Bommai suffered a humiliating defeat, contrary to the predictions of a close-to-hung assembly made by a plethora of pollsters.

For the Congress and the galaxy of opposition leaders – NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, former J & K CMs Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, Left leaders Sitaram Yechuri and D Raja, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhaghel, Himachal Pradesh CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu were sharing the stage with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the victorious Karnataka Congress team.

Nearly one lakh people congregated at the Kanteerva Stadium which was hosting the “presentation party” of the Karnataka Political League – Assembly elections – in the form of a swearing-in ceremony of the new Karnataka government. Precisely at 12.30 pm, Siddaramaiah walked up to the podium for taking the oath of office and secrecy for the second time as the Chief Minister, followed by Deputy CM designate DK Shivakumar.

The victorious duo – the mass leader Siddaramaiah and strategist and poll manager Shivakumar – was greeted with thunderous applause, in an indication of the people’s excitement and happiness over the change in the government, as they had replaced the 40 per cent sarkar with anticipation of better tidings.

True to the word given by the Congress leaders, the first act of the Siddaramaiah government was to give in-principle clearance to the five guarantees that the Congress gave to the voters of the state during the electioneering and had given a written commitment to this effect in the party’s poll manifesto.

The first cabinet meeting of the new government took a decision to implement the 5 Guarantees that Congress made during the campaign and declared in its manifesto. The implementation of the five schemes – Gruha Jyoti, Gruha Lakshmi, Anna Bhagya, Yuva Nidhi, and Shakti – is estimated to cost Rs 50,000 crore per annum, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, addressing the first press conference after the cabinet meeting. Details of the schemes’ implementation will be worked out at the next cabinet meeting he said. The cabinet also decided to hold a three-day session of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from May 22 for the swearing-in of the MLAs.

On day one, hours after assuming charge, Siddaramaiah launched a blistering attack on the previous government and the central government for causing a huge loss to the state’s exchequer. As per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission, Karnataka was to get an interim relief of Rs 5,495 crore, which the centre did not pay. Wonder what union finance minister Niramala Sitharaman, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka did, he said and added, “Because of her, and because of Narendra Modi, Karnataka suffered a loss. We are entitled legitimately to interim relief. It is not a small amount. All the BJP MPs did not say anything, and Union Ministers from Karnataka did not say anything. Basavaraj Bommai himself was a member of the GST council member.”

Now what makes Saturday, May the 20th special for the Congress is that its government hit the ground running and used the event to showcase opposition unity – by presenting leaders of different hues on one stage, to send out a message to the BJP that “watch out, we are getting ready for 2024.” As one of the prominent leaders, Sharad Pawar had strategized, whichever party was strong in a region, took on the BJP and if the opposition played with a man-to-man marking game plan, it could block BJP from returning to power at the centre in 2024.

But then, there were spoilsports in the opposition – Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh and TMC of West Bengal — which kind of abstained from the swearing-in ceremony of a Congress government. Incidentally, both contest against Congress in their respective states. Their absence, though, must not be read as a poor index of opposition unity, as the process has just begun, and opposition leaders are somewhat optimistic that the moves will gather pace in the short future.

Plans for an opposition conclave are being made for holding such a congregation in Bihar soon.

The post New Congress government in Karnataka swears by welfare economics appeared first on News24 English.

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New Congress government in Karnataka swears by welfare economics
New Congress government in Karnataka swears by welfare economics
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