SPOTLIGHT

Congress going slow on its five guarantees in Karnataka

Published : Jun 29, 2023 11:00 IST - 2 MINS READ

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. | Photo Credit: HANDOUT E MAIL

The Congress party rode to power in the State on its promise to implement five populist guarantees.

One of the primary reasons for the Congress’ big victory in the Karnataka election was its promise to implement five populist guarantees.

These guarantees are Gruha Jyothi (200 units of free electricity to every household), Gruha Lakshmi (Rs.2,000 to every female head of household), Anna Bhagya (10 kg of rice to each person), Yuvanidhi (dole of Rs.3,000 and Rs.1,500 for unemployed graduates and diploma holders respectively), and Shakti (free travel for women in public transport buses).

The five guarantees were approved in the first Cabinet meeting of the new government held on May 20, and subsequently, in the second meeting on June 2, the government decided to implement all the guarantees in the current financial year.

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The first scheme to be ticked off the list was Shakti on June 11. According to the scheme, women and transgenders can travel for free in non-premium bus services across the State, including long-distance travel. On the basis of the popular response to the scheme so far, it is estimated to lead to a revenue loss of around Rs.4,000 crore annually.

Registrations have also commenced for Gruha Lakshmi. Laxmi Hebbalkar, Woman and Child Development Minister, said that money will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of women heads of households who have been identified in BPL (below poverty line) and ration cards, from August 15 onwards.

Rules have also been framed for Gruha Jyothi, which will commence from July and reflect in the consumers’ electricity bills in August, but the contours of this scheme are more complicated: only consumers who have used less than 200 units of electricity monthly on an average in the past year will benefit from this scheme.

Rules are yet to be framed for rolling out the Yuvanidhi scheme.

The implementation of the Anna Bhagya scheme, which will benefit BPL card holders, has run into rough weather, with the Karnataka government alleging that Food Corporation of India is refusing to supply the 2.28 lakh tonnes of rice required to meet the shortfall. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah accused the Central government of blocking the supply with the intention of thwarting this flagship scheme. According to sources, the Karnataka government is looking to grain-surplus States such as Chhattisgarh and Punjab to meet its rice needs.

Also Read | A Congress road map on how to defeat the BJP in the States

The exact quantum of budgetary allocation required to sustain the guarantees will be known when Siddaramaiah, who also holds the Finance portfolio, presents the Budget on July 7. But it is estimated to cost the exchequer Rs.50,000-60,000 crore annually.

BJP leaders have criticised the Congress for the delay in implementation of the guarantees. Former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa warned Siddaramaiah that the people of the State would be angry with the Congress “even if one gram of rice” under the Anna Bhagya scheme was reduced.

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