Karnataka Budget 2019: In poll year, HD Kumaraswamy farms for votes

Bengaluru: Amid hot speculation whether his nine-month-old government would survive till February 14 when the current legislature session is set to end after approving the state budget, Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Friday reached out to his favourite constituency-farmers allocating Rs 12,650 crore in 2019-20 for his much talked about crop loan waiver scheme.

However, keeping in mind the coming Lok Sabha polls and the need to strike an urban-rural balance, the CM also doled out several projects for Bengaluru announcing a whopping Rs 1.2 lakh crore for city infrastructure like the commuter train, metro network, roads, elevated corridors, waste management and lake rejuvenation.  

“In 2019-20, a budget provision of Rs 6,500 crore has been made for commercial bank crop loans and Rs 6,150 crore for co-operative bank crop loans,” Mr Kumaraswamy said to the thumping of desks by members of the treasury benches.

He promised to complete the co-operative loan waiver process  by June this year, and the commercial bank loan waiver during the current financial year.

Mr Kumaraswamy had  met his pre-election promise in his first budget last year, announcing a Rs 46,000 crore waiver of crop loans borrowed by nearly 42 lakh farmers. He said Rs 5,450 crore had been released to about 12 lakh loan accounts of commercial banks so far.

The presentation of the budget happened amid high drama with BJP members staging a walkout in protest against budget copies  not being distributed among MLAs and the media prior to its presentation as is the usual practice.

In what seems to be a ‘please all budget,’ the CM doled out hundreds of crores for various mathas and institutions belonging to different religions.

CM H.D. Kumaraswamy who presented his second budget on Friday, seems to have risked fiscal prudence to dole out hundreds of crores to various mathas and institutions associated with different religions and communities. He announced Rs 25 cr for Maulana Azad Trust to propagate scientific temper and modern education among Muslims.

To develop Kabarasthans (burial grounds) the government has set aside Rs 10 cr while the CM has allotted Rs 20 cr for developing burial grounds. For the development of the Christian community, Rs 200 cr has been allocated while for the celebration of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikh spiritual leader Guru Gobind Singh, the government has set aside Rs 10 cr each for two Gurudwaras- one in Halasuru in Bengaluru and the other in Bidar. CM set aside Rs 25 cr each to develop the birthplaces of Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga Matha, late Balagangadharanath Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri matha, Rs 5 cr for Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Authority, and Rs 60 cr for the development of religious places and mathas of the OBCs and others.

A grant of Rs 17,212 cr has been provided to the water resources department  for various irrigation schemes, tank filling projects, comprehensive development works, canal modernization and development works.  The budget has provided for establishing a thousand Karnataka Public Schools at the headquarters of hoblis over the next four years and proposed the establishment of a Christian Development Corporation in 2019-20 to implement comprehensive development programmes for Christians at Rs 200 cr. 

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