Flood relief to be raised at Karnataka Assembly session

Flood relief to be raised at Karnataka Assembly session

Winter session of Karnataka legislature will begin on Thursday

Karnataka Assembly (PTI Image for Representation)

The winter session of the Karnataka legislature that will begin on Thursday is expected to be stormy, with the opposition Congress and JD(S) likely to corner the BJP government on a host of issues, including flood relief.

This will be the second session for the BJP government after assuming power, the last one being in July end, where Yediyurappa proved his majority on the floor of the House and Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri was elected the new Speaker.

The government has said the three-day session will primarily focus on discussion on the budget and its passage. Soon after proving his government's majority on July 29, Yediyurappa, who also holds the Finance portfolio, had sought a vote on account for three months -- August 1 to October 31.

The opposition is expected to take on the government, alleging failure in handling flood relief and drought situation in several parts of the state. Despite the BJP-ruled government at the centre, delay in grant of central funds for flood relief and cut in allocation to constituencies represented by opposition MLAs are among the issues that Congress and JD(S) are likely to raise. The Opposition, constantly questioning the "capability" of Yediyurappa, 25 BJP MPs and central ministers from the state in getting the funds, is likely to take advantage of "some discontent" in the ruling party over delay in central aid and statements by some of its leaders to target the government.

JD(S) will corner the government both inside and outside the House on flood relief. Former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy will lead the charge in the assembly, while former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda would participate in a protest march here on Thursday. Congress too has decided to take up the issue in a big way and its legislature party leader Siddaramaiah has written to the Chief Minister to extend the session to discuss the situation in affected areas. He had even asked for the session to be held in Belagavi. However, the centre's announcement of Rs 1,200 crore as interim relief late last week has come as a relief to BJP, to face the session with some confidence.

A total of 103 taluks in 22 districts were affected due to floods in August, in which over 80 people were killed. Around seven lakh people were shifted to safe areas and thousands of houses were damaged. According to sources, the opposition is likely to demand an extension of the session for about two weeks, during the Business Advisory Committee meeting of both the Houses.

The government had earlier decided to hold a legislature session from October 14 to 26, but it was subsequently rescheduled following the announcement of by-polls to 15 assembly constituencies on October 21. The Election Commission, however, later decided to defer the election to December 5, citing the case of disqualified Congress-JD(S) legislators pending before the Supreme Court. The winter session will be held at 'Vidhana Soudha', the state secretariat here and not in Belagavi, as is the practice, as most parts of the district have been ravaged by floods.

The Congress has so far not announced its leader in the assembly, who would be the official Leader of the Opposition. The race to the post has gained momentum in Congress as factions have emerged within the party, both in favour and opposing Siddaramaiah, who is seen as a key contender. Senior Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry was recently sent by the party high command to solicit the opinion of local leaders on the post of Leader of the Opposition and a few other key posts like opposition leader in the council, deputy leaders and chief whips in both Houses. Some senior party leaders, including G Parameshwara and H K Patil are said to be opposed to the idea of making Siddaramaiah the party leader in the Assembly and are themselves eying the post.

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