BJP leaders are paper tigers: Krishna Byre Gowda

BJP leaders are paper tigers: Krishna Byre Gowda

BJP leaders are paper tigers: Krishna Byre Gowda

In his fourth consecutive term as a legislator, Krishna Byre Gowda (45) was one of the youngest faces in the Siddaramaiah cabinet when he became agriculture minister. With polls nearing, Bharath Joshi from DH caught up with Gowda on farmers issues on the back of which the BJP is mounting an aggressive attack on the Congress.


Over 3,500 farmers have committed suicide and the BJP has branded your government as 'anti-farmer'. Has this inflicted any damage?

At every stage, we have taken pro-farmer measures. Definitely, farmers suicides have happened. Between 2015 and 2017, Karnataka had severe, consecutive drought that caused a spike in farmer suicides. But we've managed to control it. BJP national president Amit Shah is good at fooling people. He should know that BJP-ruled states rank top in farmer suicides.

BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh waived loans farmers borrowed from nationalised banks. Karnataka waived only cooperative farm loans. Why?

BJP leaders had publicly stated that if Karnataka waived cooperative loans, they would convince the Centre to get loans in nationalised banks waived. We delivered and it's time BJP leaders kept their word. At least, do they have the guts to ask the prime minister to waive loans of Karnataka's farmers? They are paper tigers acting like real tigers.

The BJP is going door-to-door collecting a handful of grains - Mushti Dhanya Sangraha - to further the cause of farmers. Will this prove costly for the Congress?

It's shameless that the BJP is doing this campaign. I don't think people will fall for it. When it was in power, the BJP could not do the basic job of supplying seeds and fertilisers in time to farmers. When farmers protested, the BJP had to resort to golibaar in Haveri that killed two farmers. They were beaten with lathis at Ballari and Chamarajanagar.

The Union Budget has promised farmers minimum support price that is 1.5 times the production cost. Electorally, will this affect the Congress?

It won't. We fact-checked the budget announcement and found it to be completely bogus. Right now, the NDA is maintaining 1.36 of the cost whereas during the UPA, it was 1.47. The UPA did 10 years ago what they have promised today. It's a convenient tool to fool farmers and I hope they won't buy into it.

It is being repeatedly claimed that Karnataka has not spent Central grants and funds under the 14th Finance Commission.

Karnataka has been one of the biggest drawers of centrally-sponsored schemes. We never let go of money. But, if you release money today and look at the statement 10 days later, it will obviously show as unspent. You should look at the expenditure statement as on March 31.

So, are you saying Karnataka has spent all central funds?

Our government has maintained an expenditure ratio of 97-98%.

We are one of the most fiscally-prudent states in India. By making such half-baked charges and selective interpretation of figures, BJP is insulting the people of Karnataka.

As a legislator representing Bengaluru, do you agree that the Congress has been at the receiving end of citizen activism over the poor infrastructure?

We understand that Bengalureans have grievances. If you see the rate at which Bengaluru is growing - we add six lakh vehicles annually - no matter how much we push infrastructure, it's inadequate.

It's a challenge. But we're aggressively moving on Metro, road infrastructure and streamlining garbage management. We may talk less, but people can see that things are happening.


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