Cong misrule cause for Karnataka picking up debt: Bommai

Bengaluru, March 8 : Taking on former chief minister Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday said the root cause for Karnataka picking up debt was the misrule by Congress. “Because of the loans you (Congress) raised, we (Karnataka) have picked up debts. If you had given good administration, we would not have picked up debt,” Bommai said in the Assembly amid pandemonium. Pandemonium prevailed in the Assembly, when Siddaramaiah dragged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name into the debate on the 2022-23 budget presented by Bommai. Siddaramaiah said, “After Modi assumed power, he gave a slogan “sabka saath, sabka vikas”, but it proved “sabka sarvanash” (total destruction).” Countering him, Bommai pointed out that it was “garibi hatao” slogan that pushed the entire nation into poverty. “The Central and state governments have been implementing poverty alleviation programmes. Your government also did it. In 1972, you (Congress) gave ‘garibi hatao’ slogan, but what happened? Poor people became poorer. The entire country was reduced to poverty,” he said. Reacting to Bommai’s remarks, Siddaramaiah asked, “What did (Atal Behari) Vajpayee do? Gave India a shining slogan.” “Yes,” replied Bommai, “But because of Vajpayee’s endeavours, you (Siddaramaiah) are able to move around on Express Highways comfortably. Prior to this, what was the quality of highways? What is the quality of Highways at present?” Retorting to Bommai’s comments, Siddaramaiah said, “Were check dams built during your (BJP) rule?” “Yea, for building one check dam, you took 60 years. And for agricultural issues who begged before America,” Bommai said. “You (BJP) destroyed the economy by selling government assets to private companies,” Siddaramaiah interjected. “No, we have not privatised any company. We just leased it. In fact, Manmohan Singh started to sell government assets,” Bommai shot back. “Even the farmers suffered because of Congress policies. Who signed the WTO agreement? Because of that farmers had to compete internationally and suffered. You sold the entire country, not we,” he said. As commotion prevailed in the assembly, the assembly was adjourned for lunch break. Yesterday, Siddaramaiah had termed the 2022-23 budget as disappointing, as it has the potential of trapping the state in the vicious cycle of debt due to increased borrowings. He had said that the 2022-23 budget is lacklustre as it only gives assurances and avoids listing out the government’s achievements. In the last two years, the state has raised an estimated Rs 5.18 lakh crore loan in 2022-23 against Rs 2.42 lakh crore in 2018-19, Siddaramaiah said. “This will force the government to pay an interest rate of Rs 27,000 crore on loans in 2021-21 and Rs 29,397 crore in 2022-23, meaning, the government would dole out the principal sum and interest amounting to Rs 43,000 crore in 2022-23,” he added. The government has violated norms stipulated under the 2002 Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act by raising excessive loans, Siddaramaiah said. He further said that the revenue deficit was estimated at Rs 14,699 crore and fiscal deficit estimated at Rs 61,564 crore, which was 3.26 per cent of the GSDP in 2022-23. Siddaramaiah also pointed out the decline in Centre’s share in Centrally-sponsored projects from 75 per cent in 2013-14 to 49.95 per cent in 2021-22. He asked the government to pressurise the Centre to allocate more funds to such projects. BDN RJ

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