Siddaramaiah: BJP wants to destabilise guarantee schemes in Karnataka

"What is the use of offering naivedya to God without providing food to the poor? What is the benefit of building temples for God without providing homes to the poor?"

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah speaks to the press of the Congress manifesto in 2024 (photo courtesy @siddaramaiah/X)
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah speaks to the press of the Congress manifesto in 2024 (photo courtesy @siddaramaiah/X)
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NH Political Bureau

With Union home minister Amit Shah on a campaign tour of his state, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday, 11 February, charged the BJP with trying to destabilise the guarantee schemes in the state:

If there are any objections to the guarantee schemes, BJP leaders should clearly state their opposition immediately and, similarly, announce in the states governed by the BJP that all current guarantee schemes will be discontinued. Why, instead, are BJP leaders trying to destabilise guarantee schemes in Karnataka? Do they harbour hatred for the people of Karnataka?
Siddaramaiah, chief minister of Karnataka and Congress leader

The chief minister continued on a post shared on X (formerly Twitter), referring to Union home minister Amit Shah's visit:

'Now, the Home Minister Amit Shah, who has arrived in Karnataka, has vented his envy towards our government by saying 'the treasury is empty because of the guarantee schemes'.

'If this is Amit Shah's firm opinion, he should participate in a public debate with me. I can prove that our treasury is not empty because of the guarantee schemes; instead, there is an unfair distribution of taxes from the Centre to the state,' added Siddaramaraiah.

The argument seems to be of a piece with recent remarks from several ministers of the southern states arguing that if anything, the South is being effectively penalised for its success on public welfare and development indices.

In contrast, it has been argued, the northern states get more from the Centre due to a strategy that almost seems to reward poor human development measures. (More on that in the link below.)

Siddaramaiah, responding to Amit Shah's remarks on his visit, continued:

When talking about Karnataka, the same BJP leaders who oppose the guarantee schemes in our state are promising to implement the same guarantee schemes in the states they govern.
The honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who opposed our guarantee schemes, has now stolen not only our guarantee schemes but also the name 'guarantee' and is advertising under the same name.

"If there are any objections to the guarantee schemes, BJP leaders should clearly state their opposition immediately," said Siddaramaiah, "and, similarly, announce in the states governed by the BJP that all current guarantee schemes will be discontinued."

Why, instead, are (the Bharatiya Janata Party) leaders trying to destabilise guarantee schemes in Karnataka?," he asked. "Do they harbour hatred for the people of Karnataka?"

"This shows the anti-poor stance and intellectual bankruptcy of (the BJP),” chief minister Siddaramaiah stated.

Speaking to the press of the Congress manifesto for the 2024 elections on Friday, 10 February, the chief minister had pointed out:

In the development in the country, social security and food security programs implemented, almost everything was during the Congress period. Food Security Act, Right to Education and Right to Information Acts were enacted during Manmohan Singh's tenure.

In his post on X, Siddaramaiah added that "From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Amit Shah and local BJP leaders, their real opposition is not to the guarantee schemes but to the beneficiaries of these schemes, the poor."

He said that there is a history of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar opposing any programmes intended for the poor. Even when the late prime minister Indira Gandhi called for 'Garibi Hatao (eradicate poverty), the same RSS–BJP opposed it. "They have always opposed social justice programmes, including land reforms and reservations," he added.

Home Minister Amit Shah, who speaks against our guarantee schemes, shows disdain for Kannadigas. Opposition to the Kannada flag, attempts at Hindi imposition, and the conspiracy to favour Amul over Nandini are all achievements of Amit Shah.

"During my first term as Chief Minister, the BJP leaders had shown their intolerance and jealousy towards the welfare programmes for the poor like Anna Bhagya, Ksheera Bhagya and Indira Canteen that I had introduced," the Congress leader added.

"The central government, which had refused to provide the rice required for the Anna Bhagya scheme," he continued, "is now selling the same rice under the brand 'Bharat'. The central government, which had refused to provide (Karnataka) rice at Rs 33 per kilo when we asked, is now selling it at Rs 29 per kilo."

It may be recalled that the ban on export of non-basmati rice was also partially lifted in the last quarter of 2023. Due to an alleged shortage of FCI rice, the central government of India had last year refused to sell subsidised rice to Karnataka.

Siddaramaiah also took the Union government to task about its tardiness and apparent reluctance to fund disaster relief in the state, even though this is part of its duties through the home ministry.

"If the central government has to provide disaster relief, a high-level committee meeting chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah has to decide. Amit Shah, who is antagonistic towards Kannadigas, does not even call for such a meeting," he said.

Finally, Siddaramaiah—in an apparent response to the Ram Mandir resolution passed on the last working day of Parliament—brought up differing notions of spirituality and a devout attitude towards humanity itself, saying: "Reducing the hardships of the poor and wiping their tears is the true devotion to God, as I understand."

No matter how many times you chant the name of Rama while causing harm to the poor, it is futile. What is the use of offering naivedya to God without providing food to the poor? What is the benefit of building temples for God without providing homes to the poor?

"Those who oppose the guarantee schemes cannot have the mercy of any Rama. They cannot have the blessings of Mother Chamundeshwari," he concluded, invoking the state's patron deity's own sense of justice.

In a separate post on X yesterday, Siddaramaiah also referenced the Congress' recent 'black paper' on the Modi government's performance of the last 10 years:

"Over the past ten years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders have been describing the BJP's governance as the 'Amrit Kaal', he said, adding:

In reality, this has been a period of 'Vinasha Kaal'. During this time, the hardships and sufferings of the country's farmers, workers, women, youth, the oppressed, and the common people have increased by many folds.

He listed out the many 'Modi ka guarantees' that have yet to come to fruition: "I am presenting the details of the injustices of Narendra Modi's last ten years with data before the people of Karnataka. Let the people decide if it is Amrit Kaal or Vinasha Kaal?"

"Doubling farmers' income, 2 crore annual jobs for the youth, protection for women, job security for workers, safeguarding the oppressed communities, and providing essentials at affordable prices were among the colourful promises made by Modi, which won him the election.

"(Yet) not a single promise made by Narendra Modi has ever been fully fulfilled," he alleged.

"After winning, he forgot the promises made to the people and has been engrossed in politics in the name of God and religion, and in appeasing the industrialists," said Siddaramaiah.

With IANS inputs

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