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Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah under attack over dictatorial style of functioning

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has come under pincer attacks on multiple fronts with the Opposition as well as his own colleagues finding fault with his “dictatorial style of functioning” and the complaints have even reached the Raj Bhavan.

While the two opposition parties, BJP and the JD(S) appear to have joined ranks to launch a scathing attack on the government, senior Congress leader BK Hari Prasad, who was denied entry into the Cabinet, has come out openly accusing Siddaramaiah of “favouring” his own Kuruba community at the cost of other OBC communities.

Scathing attack on CM

Speaking at a gathering of the Ediga (toddy-tapper, fisher-folk) community to which he belongs and which constitutes about 3% of the state’s population, Hari Prasad said having been close to the party high command for over three decades, he had helped in the appointment of five Congress chief ministers across the country, and he was “well-versed with the art of both appointing and removing chief ministers.”

A member of the Rajya Sabha for six terms and a close confidant of the Sonia Gandhi family, Hari Prasad is currently a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council. Sources say that deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar pushed for his entry into the Cabinet and even Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge was in his favour, but Siddaramaiah refused to accommodate him and instead chose Madhu Bangarappa, a party greenhorn, whose only credential was that he is the son of former chief minister S. Bangarappa.

Venting his ire at Siddaramaiah, who joined the Congress in 2007 after migrating from JS(S), Hari Prasad said, “I’m not a new tenant, but living in my own house and doing politics for 49 years. I have never begged any chief minister, and on the contrary, as a senior Congress party functionary, I have installed five chief ministers….This chief minister (Siddaramaiah) is only helping his community, doing injustice to other OBCs like Edigas, Billavas etc. I requested for a grant of Rs 5 crore for Koti Chennaiah park in Dakshina Kannada, but it has not been sanctioned. Our community, which is spread across six districts cannot be ignored.”

IAS men used as ‘Chaprasis’

The short budget session of the legislature, which ended on a sour note, also witnessed fiery exchanges between the ruling and opposition benches as the BJP and JD(S) members hauled the government over the coals for using 31 senior IAS officers to do “protocol duty” for visiting Opposition leaders who converged in Bengaluru from other states for a “unity meet.” Former chief ministers Basavaraj Bommai and HD Kumaraswamy said the Congress government had used senior officers as “Chaprasis” at a private gathering of politicians and it was an “insult” to the people of Karnataka.

While Siddaramaiah tried to defend his government’s action saying that they were “state guests,” Bommai said it was a political event which had nothing to do with the state and the salaries of the participating officials should be cut because “they had violated their conduct rules.”

Even as the opposition members were standing and shouting in the well of the House, The Deputy Speaker, Rrudrappa Lamani went ahead with the adoption of some legislative Bills. Protesting against this, when some members tore the Bills and threw them at the Chair, 10 BJP members were named, suspended for 10 days and forcibly evicted from the House, which prompted the Opposition to boycott the chief minister’s reply to the discussion on the Budget.

Reckless taxation

Meanwhile, the Siddaramaiah government has earned the wrath of the people by resorting to reckless taxation to find the resources to fulfil the promise to implement “five guarantees” for freebies. The chief minister has resorted to 20% hike in excise duty on liquor, 15% increase in road tax and stamp duty, a steep hike in milk price and electricity charges. With two more mega guarantees, including Rs 2,000 per month to every women head of the family and unemployment doles to lakhs of youth yet to come, there is bound to be more burden on the people.

With the “Shakti” guarantee scheme of free ride for women in buses depriving thousands of transporters of their livelihoods, the private operators of buses, tempos, taxis and autos have called for a state-wide bandh on July 27. They are demanding that the government compensate them with Rs10,000 per month as their incomes have been badly hit.