Chief Minister tells critics to stop looking at the lapse with a magnifying glass

Seeking to play down the controversy over presentation of agriculture budget, later altered as an action plan, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on Wednesday termed it a ‘minor technical mistake’.

“None can question our commitment to the welfare of farmers. Our critics should stop looking at the lapse with a magnifying glass,” he told reporters here in the Assembly.

‘No going back’

He said that in Karnataka, the Finance Minister reads the budget in two parts, including the agriculture action plan. “In our case, we have deviated from the procedure leading to confusion,” he said and added that there was no going back on the government’s commitment on extending all benefits to the needy.

The Chief Minister’s reaction came after the Opposition parties served privilege notices on the issue to presiding officers in the two Houses of the Legislature. The government on its part sent a letter to Speaker Nadendla Manohar explaining the sequence of events leading to the goof-up which it attributed to a printing error.

Mr. Reddy said that a committee headed by the Special Chief Secretary and comprising principal secretaries of the respective departments would be constituted for effective implementation of the agriculture action plan.

Duplication to be avoided

In future, the government would take steps to avoid duplication of (similar) work being executed by different departments. Once the agriculture action plan was successful, the government would introduce similar plans for education, health, industries and infrastructure.

Later in the Legislative Council, Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy said in his reply to the Governor’s address that next year they would follow due legislature procedures to present the agriculture budget for the focused monitoring of agriculture and allied sectors.

Responding to privilege notices, Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy in a clarification said they had introduced the agriculture action plan along with the general budget and admitted that the term ‘agriculture budget’ was a printing mistake. The action plan was part of the budget speech but read out separately by the Agriculture Minister with the permission of the Chief Minister.

“We submitted a letter to you about the printing error and the error has been rectified,” he told Council Chairman A. Chakrapani and requested the Chair that the corrected copies be given to the members.