Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa, who has often targeted the Centre for allegedly not aiding the State during floods and power crisis, seems to have softened his stand and says cooperation has been extended to the BJP-ruled State.
“Things are improving now. In some areas the Centre has extended cooperation to the state”, he said as his government completed two years in office today.
67-year-old Mr. Yeddyurappa rejected the charge that minorities were living in fear under the BJP rule and shot back saying, “You show me one such instance. They are all very happy“.
Mr. Yeddyurappa told PTI that he had never spoken of following the Gujarat model of governance. “I only said I will turn Karnataka into a model State in the next three years“.
The Chief Minister ridiculed opposition Congress and JDS for attacking his government’s performance, saying they should compare works done during his tenure with that in the last 10 years before drawing any conclusion.
He said people have approved of his government’s performance by ensuring BJP wins in all elections held in the last two years.
“What more proof does one require to assess the achievements of any government?”, the BJP leader from the dominant Lingayat community asked, hitting at the opposition parties for questioning his party’s performance.
“I hold 100 per cent command over governance. My ministerial colleagues and officials have been extending great degree of cooperation, because of which the government has been able to implement several development programmes”, he said.
Mr. Yeddyurappa survived a major threat to his leadership last September following dissident activity spearheaded by three Bellary ministers unhappy over his style of functioning - Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy, his brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy and their confidant Health Minister B. Sreeramulu, which the BJP High Command doused.
The BJP under Mr. Yeddyurappa won the by-elections to Assembly seats that became vacant after the saffron party lured MLAs from opposition parties under “operation lotus”. It gained control over Bruhut Bangalore Mahanagara Palike for the first time and won 18 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats.
Mr. Yeddyurappa rubbished statements by his predecessor and JDS leader H. D. Kumaraswamy that the BJP government was “inexperienced”, saying he performed well as a deputy Chief Minister and finance minister in JDS-BJP coalition for 20 months. “I have been Chief Minister for more than two years. People have seen my work. Let them judge who performed well”.
“JDS leaders are desperate after being thrown out of power by the people. People have lost faith in JDS and its leaders and some are worried about their future”, he said.
Mr. Yeddyurappa admitted that certain events concerning some of his ministerial colleagues like H. Halappa, facing rape charges, and Social Welfare Minister Sudhakar, under CBI scanner for alleged cheating of a bank, had embarrassed his government.
“Yes, we felt embarrassed. Such things should not have happened”, he said, adding that people should still wait to know if these allegations were true.
Mr. Halappa, who was forced to resign after charges of raping his friend’s wife, is in judicial custody while Mr. Sudhakar is facing trial on the charge of cheating a bank of Rs. six crore by obtaining home loans under fictitious names.
On implementation of rural development programmes, he claimed Karnataka was in the top position among all states.
He also referred to the recent Global Investors Meet, which attracted investment to the tune of Rs. 4.32 lakh crore, saying it was a major achievement and “the first of its kind in the annals of the state’s history.”
Mr. Yeddyurappa said water sharing disputes on Krishna and Cauvery were still pending in courts and tribunals, affecting progress on irrigation projects, but the State had still achieved a lot in the sector.
He noted that in 2009-10 Karnataka created an additional irrigation potential of 70,585 acres by completing 14 irrigation schemes which had not been implemented for the last several years. About 37 lakh hectares out of 106 lakh hectares suitable for cultivation was now under irrigation.
“This year we plan big projects in the irrigation sector as we have allocated Rs. 4,256 crore for the purpose”, he said.
He also said there was tardy progress in construction of houses in flood-ravaged districts.
“I admit there was delay. We could not keep our promise of constructing houses before the onset of monsoon this year. But we will complete the work and hand over 63,000 houses. Those affected by tsunami waited for more than five years to be rehabilitated”, he said, referring to “Aasare”, the programme under which these houses are being built.
Asked about allegations against his government that it resorted to favouritism while granting relief in flood affected areas and that relief funds were not properly utilised, he suggested that there be a debate in the coming legislature session. “I am ready to give all data on the issue,” he said.
He said the government was also in favour of lifting traffic ban between Bandipur and Kerala (owing to the number of animals being killed by vehicles), but said the issue was before the courts. “Let us await the judicial verdict”, he said.