The Congress government in Karnataka has been rocked by scandals and scams since it came to power in 2013, and the latest budget presented by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah shows that the party is working hard to hold on to power.
In his last Budget before the 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls, Siddaramaiah stuck to the tried and tested formula: A smattering of populist schemes, and a focus on the many vote banks that need to be focussed on.
From introducing schemes catering to BJP-dominated coastal areas to promising compensations for deaths of cattle and livestock, waiving interest on loans given to womenâ€™s self-help groups, the state budget has all the features to woo the electorate.
The Congress government had won the 2013 election by consolidating the Dalit, OBC and minority votes, and this Budget has focussed on these communities as well.
â€śOurs is an inclusive, universal development mode. In the last four Budgets I have put forth before the people an extensive economic framework for social justice keeping in mind the objectives of our Constitution. An honest effort has been made to enhance the same in this budget,â€ť Siddaramaiah said in his budget speech on Wednesday.
BJP-dominated areas get a boost
The Krishi Bhagya scheme has been extended to all talukas of coastal and Malnad areas and Rs 600 crore has been allotted for the scheme.
The coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, have also received a large chunk of the budget as the area has a prominent BJP presence.
One of the major hits for the coastal region is in the fisheries sector with the Malpe jetty to be extended up to 75m, which will harbour more boats.
â€śAround 20 Fishermen Cooperative Societies will receive a subsidy of 75% for the construction of 500 sq ft fish collection and marketing building. The centres are to be constructed on their own sites with the cost of construction of each unit pegged at Rs 10 lakh,â€ť Siddaramaiah said.
The government has also increased the electricity subsidy to Rs 1.75 per unit and to Rs 3.50 lakh per plant/annum for 200 ice-plants and 35 cold storages in these districts, for which Rs 6 crore has been set aside.
In a bid to woo the pro-Kannada groups, which offer their support to the BJP, the Karnataka government has proposed to move towards ensuring 100% preference for Kannadigas in the private sector.
The preference is only applicable to group C and group D categories amongst SC, ST and OBCs for posts in all private companies that have established businesses in the state.
The CM has also announced allocation of Rs 10 crore for construction of a Haj Bhavan in Mangaluru.
The government has decided to provide 10,000 litres of water every month, free of cost, to the residents of slums living in 30x20 m sites and water charges will be waived off.
A one-time incentive of Rs 2 lakh each will be provided to students of the SC, ST, OBC and minority communities for admission in IIM, IIT and IISc.
A grant of Rs 10 crore will be provided for renovation of Sikh gurdwaras and Rs 175 crore for the development of the Christian community.
Around 1400 professionally qualified SC and 600 ST unemployed youth will get a subsidy of Rs 2.5 lakh or 50% of project cost, whichever is less, for starting self-employment units with unit cost up to Rs.5 lakhs.
Five Beggarâ€™s Relief Centers to be opened in Haveri, Chamarajnagar, Hassan, Koppal and Yadgir Districts by Central Relief Committee.