Bengaluru, Jan 31 (PTI) Ruling Congress MLA H C Balakrishna has advocated stopping the Karnataka government’s guarantee programmes, in case the party fails to win maximum number of seats in the state in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, assuming that the people have rejected the schemes.
The Magadi MLA said he had spoken to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar and added it was for the people to decide whether they want ‘akshate’ (rice grains mixed with turmeric and ghee distributed by organisers or volunteers of RSS/ VHP ahead of Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir consecration) or five guarantee schemes.
While the opposition BJP hit out at the MLA and the Congress government, Shivakumar seeking to clarify, said no guarantee scheme will be stopped and it will be continued for five years.
“We will work, our government will be there for five years, I ask you one thing whether your vote is for akshate or five guarantees,” Balakrishna said.
Addressing a gathering in his constituency near here, he said, “We are all Hindus, we too have respect for the construction of the temple, but our argument is that seeking votes in the name of temple is not right.”
“In this situation, if people vote (in BJP’s favour) for construction of the temple…I told our Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister that — let’s continue the guarantee schemes if people make us (the Congress) win a majority of the seats in the MP (parliamentary) elections. If not, it can be assumed that the people have rejected the guarantees,” he added.
Further asking people what else the Congress should think if votes are not in its favour, the MLA told womenfolk that 80-85 per cent of money from these guarantee schemes are coming to women — who are also the matriarches of the family in many cases.
Listing out the benefits of the guarantee scheme, he further said, “despite doing all this, if people don’t vote for us and reject us, what should we decide? There is no value to these guarantees, but there is value for akshate. So we will cancel guarantees and we also will build a temple, worship there, give akshate and get the votes.”
“Tell me what to do? Whether you want guarantees or akshate. It has to be decided. I have told the Chief Minister that because of his government’s programmes, people should make the Congress win and elect MPs from our party, if not it will be understood that people don’t want your guarantees, we will take that money and do development works,” he added.
The Congress governments five guarantee schemes are — 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), ₹2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), payment of cash in lieu of the additional 5 kg of rice to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), ₹3,000 every month for graduate youth and ₹1,500 for diploma holders (YuvaNidhi) and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti).
Shivakumar said no guarantee scheme will be stopped in Karnataka, and it will continue for five years.
“The BJP had earlier (during Assembly poll campaign) threatened that if the Congress comes to power, the schemes would be only till elections (to the Lok Sabha) and Balakrishna was trying to affirm that only the Congress can implement the guarantee schemes, while cautioning the people (about BJP),” he said, as he sought to clarify with regard to his party MLA’s statement and clear the air.
Reacting to Balakrishna’s remarks, BJP state president B Y Vijayendra said in Chikkamagaluru, this shows that the Congress leaders who were under the illusion of winning more than 20 of the total 28 Parliamentary seats in the state, have accepted defeat even before the Lok Sabha polls are announced.
The Congress won the Assembly polls last year and came to power thorough “bogus guarantees,” he charged and said the BJP will not let this government to do injustice to the people of the state. “It is nothing but blackmail…the Congress should be ashamed.”
Several other BJP leaders too have hit out at the Congress party and the MLA for the statement.