With eye on Polls, Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai to present budget today
Bengaluru, Mar 04: The budget session of Karnataka legislature will begin on Friday, with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who also holds the Finance portfolio, presenting his maiden budget on the first day.
The session that is being held within 10 days of the joint session that was cut short due to Congress' protest demanding the sacking of Minister K S Eshwarappa over his statement on the national flag, is also expected to be stormy, as opposition parties are likely to corner the BJP government on a host of issues. The 19-day session will conclude on March 30.
With just a year left for the Assembly polls and this most likely being the last full-fledged budget ahead of the elections, expectations are that the Chief Minister is likely to woo voters with sops, and give thrust to infrastructure.
Though economic distress during the last two years due to COVID-19 pandemic seems to have left little room for fiscal manoeuvring, the revenue collection has been improving in recent times, giving some leeway for the Chief Minister to go for some big-ticket announcements. It also remains to be seen what Bommai will do regarding the borrowings that have been increasing year after year.
The opposition is likely to counter the government on its management of the state's finances following the budget presentation and regarding getting the state's share of funds from the Centre. The Congress which is concluding its 'padayatra' (foot march) demanding the implementation of Mekedatu drinking water project across river Cauvery, is also likely to raise the issue in the Assembly.
The opposition has been critical of the BJP government at the Centre over the evacuation of Indians especially students from war-torn Ukraine, following the death of Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, a 21-year-old medical student from Haveri district, in Russian shelling in Kharkiv city on Tuesday.
The issue is also likely to be raised in the Assembly. Along with the safe evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine, parties are also likely to press for redoubling efforts to bring back the body of Naveen.
The Hijab row, killing of 28-year old Bajrang Dal activist Harsha in Shivamogga and violence that followed are among the issues that are likely to figure the assembly proceedings, with opposition parties appearing set to put the government on the mat on law and order situation in the state.
The Congress is also likely to target the government for booking FIR against its leaders for violating COVID guidelines during the Mekedatu padayatra, as the grand old party has questioned as to why similar action was not taken against leaders of the ruling BJP for holding similar meetings and events by gathering large crowds.
The session has also come at a time when Chief Minister is under intense pressure from BJP legislators to expand or rejig the cabinet at the earliest, with assembly election slated in 2023.