BENGALURU: Are personal prejudices and bad blood between leaders of the erstwhile Janata Parivar spilling out in the open as the date for the first budget of the coalition government draws closer?
With former chief minister Siddaramaiah's steadfast opposition to a new budget, and his successor H.D. Kumaraswamy sticking to his original plan to present the budget on July 5, senior Congress leaders fear that ego clashes of the past (between these two leaders) are producing bad vibes between the coalition partners.
They attribute Mr Siddaramaiah's resentment over the budget to his bitter rivalry with Mr Kumaraswamy though the latter has set out to follow a precedent set by the former in 2013 when he dumped a budget presented by the previous BJP government.
“It is difficult for Mr Siddaramaiah to stomach the fact that a leader who tormented him through his tenure as Chief Minister with all sorts of allegations, and about whom he (Mr Siddaramaiah) was dismissive saying he did not stand a ghost of chance of becoming the Chief Minister has ascended the top post.." an insider said.
"Siddaramaiah is also being pragmatic by adopting a stand that a supplementary budget should be enough, because the new government cannot mobilize resources to write off loans of over Rs 50,000 crores of farmers at once. Besides, he is concerned that the JD (S) could walk away with all credit for the new budget, reducing to zilch the impact he attempted to create by presenting a please-all budget of over Rs two lakh crores before the Assembly elections this year. With another election less than a year away, Mr Kumaraswamy could offer goodies and sops to the voters, and these will eclipse the ones announced by Mr Siddaramaiah," leaders added.
Official sources pointed out that it would be next to impossible to waive loans of over Rs 50,000 crores in the new budget given the state's financial position and the Union government's reluctance to share the burden though over 85 lakh farmers are in distress following consecutive droughts. The state's revenue surplus for 2017-18 stood at Rs 383 crores, while the surplus for the current fiscal would be about Rs 127 crores. Subsidies account for the highest expenditure every year at over Rs 24,000 crores followed by salaries, pensions, payment of interest for loans from banks and financial institutions, and administrative expenditure. "With austerity measures and marginal cut in allocation to different departments, the government will be able to write off some percent of these farm loans, not all of them. The government must also keep to the limits prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act," sources added.
Sources hinted that the poorest among farmers in debt could benefit through the waiver, though these two leaders would continue to spar and attempt to score brownie points over each other....