Handling floods: Congress spits fire on Karnataka govt

Members of the Opposition stage a protest, demanding a discussion on the state's flood situation, in the Assembly on Thursday.

The ruling BJP and Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri came under severe attack in the Assembly on Thursday as the Opposition Congress and JD(S) locked horns with the government on the floods in large parts of the state. 

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress targeted Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on the government’s “failure” to deal with the flood situation. 

“I have love for Yediyurappa because of the struggles he has led in his life. But I also have sympathy for him, because he does not enjoy independence to discharge his duty,” Siddaramaiah said, accusing the BJP central leadership of calling the shots in the state. “Yediyurappa took oath on July 26, but he was not allowed to induct ministers till August 20. And in this period, he was all alone to deal with the floods,” he said. 

In August, Siddaramaiah said Karnataka received 279% more rainfall, leading to heavy flooding across 103 taluks in 22 districts.

“It’s been 65 days and not a single rupee has been given to cane farmers,” he pointed out. “Given the seriousness of the situation, the legislature session should have been conducted in Belagavi. By doing so, we could have instilled confidence among those affected by the floods in that region. But perhaps, the government is scared of facing the people,” he charged. 

Siddaramaiah also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “indifference” towards Karnataka. “Modi says he has a 56-inch chest, but it pains me that he doesn’t have a motherly heart within. We requested him to take up an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas, which he didn’t. I don’t know why Modi is so indifferent,” he said. “On September 7, when Modi had come to Isro for the Chandrayaan landing, even Yediyurappa wasn’t given an appointment to meet him.” 

Stir against Speaker

When Siddaramaiah, the Leader of the Opposition, rose to make his preliminary remarks on an adjournment motion the party had moved, Speaker Kageri did not initially allow it. Angered, members of the Congress and JD(S) rushed to the well of the House, accusing Kageri of being partisan. “You can’t suppress our voice like this,” Kageri was told. 

The Congress also demanded to extend the winter session of the legislature beyond three days, but the government appeared not so keen. Finally, Yediyurappa agreed for a discussion on the state’s flood situation on Friday.

Stoic silence by treasury benches

The Congress expressed bewilderment over the ruling BJP’s silence even in the face of an attack in the Legislative Assembly. The only defence came from Revenue Minister R Ashoka, who sought to counter Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to meet Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and other ministers.

“We have met Modi several times in Delhi on the flood situation,” Ashoka said. “Also, when the UPA was in power between 2009 and 2014, Karnataka received Rs 2,669 crore under the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). Under the NDA, we got Rs 8,744 crore under NDRF between 2014 and 2019,” he said. 

 

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