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Congress’s poll promise on 5 guarantees for freebies from Day 1 falls flat in Karnataka

Chief minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar

Bengaluru: The Congress party’s election promise of implementing five “guarantees” to the people of Karnataka from Day One of coming to power is turning out to be a “big hoax” as the decision was put off to “the next cabinet meeting.”

After the much-anticipated first Cabinet meeting, as millions of people were glued to their television sets in anticipation of the roll out of the guarantees, chief minister Siddaramaiah, initially, launched a tirade against the Centre for allegedly “cheating” Karnataka of its rightful share of the GST collections, before turning to the guarantees to say, “The Cabinet has given in-principle approval to their implementation.”

Earlier, after the swearing in ceremony in the presence of around 30,000 people at the Sri Kanteerava Stadium, Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah had asserted that “a decision on guarantees will be taken at the very first Cabinet meeting.”

False promises

During the election campaign, the Congress leaders had repeated ad nauseam their five attractive guarantees: Every household to get 200 units of electricity free every month under the ‘Griha Jyothi” scheme, the female head of the family to be paid Rs 2,000 per month under “Gruha Lakshmi”, 10 kg of free rice every month to every family in the state under “Anna Bhagya”, all unemployed youth graduates to get Rs 3,000 per month and unemployed diploma holders to receive Rs 1,500 per month for two years under “Yuva Nidhi” and free ride in government buses for all women across the state under “Stree Shakti” scheme. They had also found mention in the Congress manifesto.

At the Cabinet briefing, Siddaramaiah said the five guarantees would “approximately cost Rs 50,000 crore” and his government was committed to fulfil its promises. Regarding the free electricity scheme, he initially said it would cost “Rs12,000 crore per month” before correcting it to “Rs1,200 crore.” He could not give specific details about the number of beneficiaries of each scheme nor the cost to the exchequer, stating that parameters were being worked out by officials.

On being bombarded with questions from the media about the unemployment guarantee scheme and free bus service, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, who was also present, said the unemployment dole would be given to only those who had passed out during the academic year 2022-23 and had not found a job. They said, the free bus service would be provided to “only Karnataka women”, that too in ordinary buses and not luxury buses. “We will come out with all the details very soon,” they said.

Clearly, having “tempted” the people with freebies, the Congress government appears to be back-pedalling and attaching “conditions” which were not mentioned earlier. It appears that Karnataka’s Congress-led government is set to follow the “bad example” set by Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisragh governments, which made similar promises but never bothered to implement them.