What neglect? HDK's budget has more for N Karnataka

What neglect? HDK's budget has more for N Karnataka

 H D Kumaraswamy. DH file photo

The H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government has been in the eye of a storm for "neglecting" North Karnataka in allocating funds its budget, which has triggered a demand for a separate statehood for the backward region.

But, interestingly, the budget data accessed by DH shows an entirely different picture: Kumaraswamy, in his budget for fiscal 2018-19 presented on July 5, has allocated more funds for North Karnataka region, comprising 13 districts, compared to the rest of the state.

Of the total allocation of Rs 14,479 crore, North Karnataka region has received Rs 7,241 crore. The allocation has been made under 40 different programmes and schemes announced in the budget such as farm loan waiver, adoption of Israeli farming, agri startups and super-speciality hospitals.

This is over and above what then chief minister Siddaramaiah budgeted in his annual financial statement presented in February this year ahead of the Assembly elections. Kumaraswamy, who also holds the Finance portfolio, has announced the continuation all the budgetary announcements of his predecessor.

The Opposition BJP led by B S Yeddyurappa and some senior Congress leaders had taken serious exception to the budgetary allocation, accusing the government of step-motherly treatment to North Karnataka. BJP leader B Sriramulu had gone a step ahead and warned that it would become imperative to support the separate statehood demand if “lapses” are not rectified.

The saffron party, which has a strong base in several of the North Karnataka districts, has latched on to this issue and has been planning to make it one of the main planks in the coming Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, which is a coalition partner, has been keeping its fingers crossed as the issue would affect its prospects in the elections.

Lion’s share

Not only overall budgetary allocation, many of the North Karnataka districts have got a lion’s share of the big-ticket schemes announced in the budget. For instance, of Rs 12,287 crore earmarked for loan waiver (outgoing in this fiscal), Belagavi district alone is getting Rs 1,244 crore, followed by Bagalkot district with Rs 1,043 crore.

Among top five districts to get the maximum allocation, three are from North Karnataka — Belagavi, Bagalkot and Vijayapura. And among the bottom five districts to get the least allocation, four are from the southern Karnataka — Bengaluru Rural, Udupi, Bengaluru Urban and Kolar.

Political analyst Prof Harish Ramaswamy said it is not proper to arrive at a conclusion on the issue of North Karnataka development based this year’s budgetary allocation alone. “The assessment should be done on the allocations made over the past many years and keeping a historical perspective in mind. Politicising the backwardness of the region will not serve any purpose,” he stated.

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