BJP's maiden budget disappointing: Mathikatti

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Bangalore, Jul 17 (UNI) Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council Veeranna Mathikatti termed the State budget, presented in the Assembly today by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, as ''disappointing and shortsighted''.

''It was prepared with an eye on the approaching Lok Sabha elections. It has disappointed the common man who expected more from the BJP Government's maiden budget,'' he told newspersons here.

Mr Mathikatti said the BJP, which had made inroads into the South by coming to power in Karnataka, had failed to keep up its poll promises and had neglected irrigation, power, employment generation and rural development. Only 13.39 per cent in the budget had been earmarked for irrigation, which was low compared to the previous Government's allocations.

He said the Chief Minister had announced free supply of power to irrigation pumps up to 10 HP, but there was no mention about funds for power generation. ''When the State is facing shortage of 5,000 MW of power, how can farmers expect free power. It is nothing but cheating them (farmers) by announcing free supply without taking steps to increase power generation. Power generation should have been accorded top priority not only to help farmers, but also the industry,'' he added.

KPCC General Secretary V S Ugrappa took exception to increasing the retirement age of State government employees from 58 to 60 years and said it would lead to more unemployment.

He said due to poor monsoon, 130 taluks in the State were facing drought situation, but the Chief Minister had ignored rural development and drinking water in his budget.

He accused Mr Yeddyurappa of succumbing to pressure from the liquor lobby and decreasing licence fee from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5,000.

Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister M V Rajasekharan termed the budget as 'poor' in nature as it ''failed'' to meet the aspirations of the people. ''Adequate funds were not provided for generation of 1000 MW of power during the year, priority is not given to non-conventional energy and there is no sufficient provision for development of education and skill development,'' he felt.

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