Congress-JD(S) govt braces for budget session

Congress-JD(S) govt braces for budget session

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Women and Child Development Minister Jayamala seen during winter Council Session. (DH Photo/ M S MANJUNATH)

Amid alleged renewed attempts by the opposition BJP in Karnataka to destabilise it, the ruling Congress-JDS coalition government, which is beset with dissidence, is gearing up for a stormy budget session of the state legislature commencing here from Wednesday.

The eight-day session will begin with Governor Vajubhai Vala's customary address to the joint sitting of the legislature. The BJP is likely to corner the government on a host of issues including the administrations handling of the drought situation in the state, cash allegedly seized from a clerk working at a minister's office, among others. Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who also holds the Finance portfolio, is scheduled to present his coalition governments second budget on February 8.

Expressing doubts about the budget presentation on February 8, senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister R Ashoka has claimed that 20 to 25 disgruntled MLAs of the alliance were out of reach of their leaders and the coalition government was in a "coma."

Also, the saffron party has said it was not averse to moving a no-confidence motion against the Kumaraswamy-led government.

In the budget, among other things, the government is expected to make announcements directed at the fulfilment of its loan waiver promise.

Recently in an interview to PTI, Kumaraswamy had said he will fulfil his Rs 46,000-crore loan waiver commitment made to farmers "completely" in the budget.

The farm loan waiver scheme would be implemented in one stroke with required allocation in the budget instead of completing the process in four stages as was planned earlier, he had said.

This will be the first session after the cabinet expansion in December and political turmoil that engulfed the state following the alleged attempt by the BJP to topple the government by poaching disgruntled legislators of the ruling coalition.

The crisis last month was triggered by few Congress legislators camping in Mumbai along with BJP leaders, allegedly with an intention to jump to the saffron party's side.

The Congress had accused BJP of luring MLAs with money and power and also threatening to fix them using central agencies.

The Congress later called for a legislature party meeting that was seen as a show of strength amid the alleged poaching bid. Four MLAs, who stayed away, were served notices seeking an explanation as to why action should not be taken against them under the anti-defection law.

There is still uncertainty within the Congress, whether these four MLAs will be on the side of the coalition during the session or will side with the BJP or abstain if the saffron party makes any move to destabilise the government or push for a trust vote, party sources said.

With reports about more legislators being in touch with these four disgruntled MLAs, it has caused concern for the Congress and the ruling coalition.

Amid reports that disgruntled Congress lawmakers on the BJP's radar might keep away from the session, state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao Monday said action would be taken against legislators if they violate the whip.

However, BJP state chief and leader of opposition in the assembly B S Yeddyurappa Tuesday indicated that budget will be presented as per schedule, even as he hit out at the ruling coalition for unnecessarily blaming the party, unable to keep their flock together. Taking a dig at JDS supremo H D Deve Gowda, Yeddyurappa asked him to stop accusing the saffron party of trying to "destabilise" the government and instead keep the coalition flock together. He was reacting to Gowda's comments that attempts were being made by the BJP's state unit to "destabilise" the government.

Meanwhile, there are retaliatory moves planned by the coalition leaders to counter BJPs alleged moves to poach their MLAs, with Urban Development Minister and Congress leader U T Khader and Tourism Minister Sa Ra Mahesh of JD(S) on Monday claiming that a few legislators from the saffron party were in touch with them and their leadership.

The opposition is also expected to corner the government on issues like alleged squabbles between coalition partners affecting the administration, demand for Backward Class Welfare Minister C Puttaranga Shettys resignation from the cabinet as huge amounts of cash had been allegedly seized from a clerk working in his office.

Delay in the arrest of Kampli Congress MLA J N Ganesh, who is currently absconding following a case of attempt to murder for allegedly assaulting colleague Anand Singh during a brawl at a resort here recently besides drought mitigation measures undertaken by the government is among the issues that are on the BJPs radar.

The ruling coalition too on its part is likely to corner the BJP accusing the saffron party's union government of bias in drought relief to state compared to others, non-clearance of MNREGA funds, among other things.