Politics
BJP also released a 28-page booklet detailing how HD Kumaraswamy’s earlier ‘Grama Vastavya’ or village stay drives failed to create an impact.

The BJP on Monday criticised Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and the JD(S)-Congress coalition government for allegedly overspending on the CM’s hyped village stay or  ‘Grama Vastavya’ programme.

“He has resumed the village stay programme just to distract the public from the massive failure in governance in the 13 months of his tenure,” state BJP president BS Yeddyurappa told reporters, as he released a booklet titled  “Grama Vastavya, Shunya Sadhana”, which roughly translates to ‘Zero Accomplishments in Village Stay’.

“He is spending crores of rupees on his village stays. During his stay in Chandargi village this year, Rs 1.22 crore was spent on arranging food and other things. The person who has said that travelling in a helicopter around the state will burden the people, has spent Rs 1. 22 crore on this village stay. If the CM is raising his voice in support of farmers, he should answer their concerns; instead, he is crying crocodile tears. Actually, he is running his government from a five-star hotel,” he claimed.

The 28-page booklet details the impact of Kumaraswamy’s stay in 42 villages during his first stint as the CM, back in 2006, when he came to power in coalition with the BJP.

The BJP said that N Ravikumar, the party’s state General Secretary and also a Member of Legislative Council (MLC), personally visited several villages and collected information from the district functionaries of the BJP to compile this report.

Among the 42 assessments, the BJP also highlighted Kumaraswamy’s 2008 stay in Ramanagara, which was the CM’s constituency then. Currently, Ramanagara is held by his wife Anitha Kumaraswamy.

The assessment read, “CM Kumaraswamy stayed at the residence of one Lakappa in Jattidoodi village in Ramanagara. There were two toilets in the entire village of 26 houses, and provisions under ST quota have not reached the village. Owner of the house was not allowed to stay inside the house because of the CM’s visit, yet he had food prepared by Lakappa's wife. Residents of the village got 10-15 minutes to meet the CM. He promised to build houses and toilets. He also promised jobs for students, drainage and Anganwadis in the village. But they have not received anything. It was only two years ago that the village got a concrete road.”

The CM’s office could not be reached for comment.

Incidentally, a report by The New Indian Express on Sunday said that the government spending on the CM’s stay at Chandarki village in Yadgir district cost more than Rs 1 crore, despite the CM taking a state-run bus to reach there and sleeping only on a mat.

Quoting anonymous officials, the report said that Rs 50 lakh was spent on providing food to the visitors and another Rs 50 lakh on setting up makeshift offices and making other arrangements.

The booklet also poses 10 questions to the CM, all centred around the condition of farmers. Other questions pertained to the alleged kickbacks received by the current regime for proposing the controversial absolute sale deal with Jindal in Ballari.

What is CM's village stay drive?

The initiative was started by HD Kumaraswamy in his first tenure as the CM as a means of reaching out directly to the people and listening to their grievances at their doorstep. However, over the years, this move has been criticised by the Opposition as nothing but a “political gimmick”.

Ahead of his visit on Friday, addressing the reporters, the CM has said, “Twelve years ago, when I was the CM, I wanted to realise Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of swaraj (self-governance). He had said that the country will achieve freedom only when each and every village in the country has the basic necessities to improve the livelihood of its people. Grama Vastavya is what I believe would be a way to realise Gandhiji’s dreams. By every evening during my village stay, I will review all the problems – short-term and long-term. Those issues that can be sorted out the same evening will be done so.”

He added, “I have taken it as a challenge. I will change gears and make Karnataka the number one state in the country in terms of development. I will win back people’s confidence so much so that they would repent for not voting for us in the Lok Sabha elections.’