Siddaramaiah expected to present "pro-people" budget

Siddaramaiah expected to present "pro-people" budget

 Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is expected to present a "pro-people" budget in the Assembly tomorrow, as he braces himself for a major popular test in the Lok Sabha polls whose outcome may have a bearing on his standing within the ruling Congress.

For a seasoned hand with an enviable record in budget presentation, it will be the ninth budget for Siddaramaiah, who also holds the finance portfolio.

Siddaramaiah is presenting the second budget as Chief Minister since the Congress was voted to power in May last year.

Seven earlier budgets came when he was Deputy Chief Minister under the H D Deve Gowda, J H Patel and N Dharam Singh governments.

Letting his priorities known, Siddaramaiah has said the budget would be "pro-people" and "inclusive growth-oriented", with focus on social justice, while maintaining that it would not be populist as "elections come and go" and fiscal policies could not be altered with an eye on polls.

Breaking the normal practice, this year's budget is being presented two weeks earlier in view of the oncoming Lok Sabha elections.

It would be an election where Siddaramaiah would put all his might into, as he is under the close scrutiny of the central leadership of Congress, which is looking to Karnataka as a battleground where it reckons it has good chances.

For Siddaramaiah too, a strong performance would consolidate the gains made by him in the May 8 Assembly polls last year while faring below expectations might weaken his hold over the party, where he is still perceived as a "Janata Parivar man" given his credentials for most part of his career as a non-Congress politician.

Under pressure to put up a good showing, Siddaramaiah is expected to come out with "populist" measures to woo the voters, despite his assertions to the contrary.
In its best showing, the BJP had won 19 of the 28 seats in the 2009 polls. The Congress had bagged six seats and JDS three.

The legislature session will last till February 26.

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