Post-budget, Kumaraswamy likely to face another hurdle

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy presented a full budget for Karnataka on Thursday and with that, ended one of the niggling fights between him and a section of his allies, the Congress. A new conflict is however brewing in Bengaluru, this time over the question of who will be the chairman of the Legislative Council, the Upper House of the Karnataka Assembly.

Top sources in the Janata Dal (Secular) have confirmed to
The Hindu
that former Chief Minister and chief of the Congress Legislature Party, Siddaramaiah, has been pushing for S.R. Patil to be given that post, while the JD(S) wants it for itself. “The Congress already has the Speaker’s post. The agreement was that the post of Legislative Council Chairman would be given to the JD(S). The name of Mr. Patil is, however, being pushed by Mr. Siddaramaiah. To end the stalemate, we have offered the Congress the position of deputy chair and treasury whip, which is also a Cabinet position,” said the source.

The matter has not been brought up in the coordination committee meeting as of now, which has met twice since it was formed to foster communication between the alliance partners. Mr. Siddaramaiah’s antipathy to his erstwhile political mentors, the Gowdas, is well known and in several cases, matters have had to be brought before the Congress high command for mediation.

Rahul Gandhi’s role

The farm loan waiver announced by Mr. Kumaraswamy on Thursday as part of his budget for the State was one such issue where reservations were expressed by certain quarters of the Congress, but the “positive attitude” of Congress president Rahul Gandhi ended the stalemate. “There were reservations expressed over resource allocations, but the Chief Minister said he would find the money to finance it. Mr. Gandhi was always on board on the matter,” said a source.

Common programme

Both parties, however, do not see much friction arising over the common minimum programme to be set for the government, with both parties having a “similar agenda,” said the source.

While the loan waiver was one of the chief deliverables to be put in the CMP, allocation of Rs. 1.25 lakh crore for irrigation, and a target of 25 lakh homes for the homeless will be included in the CMP. Interestingly, a health care scheme called Aarogya Karnataka is also on the anvil, and, sources say, like the BJD-led Odisha government, the State government claims it would be a better scheme than the Central government’s Ayushman Bharat programme.

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