Chief Minister in introspective mood at Pourakarmika Day function
Bangalore: It was 30 seconds of fame for Gundamma, a pourakarmika, as she got a rare opportunity to bring her grievances to the notice of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Making an brief, impromptu speech at the Ambedkar Day and Pourakarmika Day celebrations organised here by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike on Monday, Ms. Gundamma said she had been asked to leave her house in the Palike quarters on Pottery Road eight years ago because it was old and unsafe. Innumerable requisitions and promises later, the family was yet to be rehabilitated. "I earn less than 4,000 rupees and spend most of it on rent. How do I pay my electricity bill or my children's fees," she asked.
Yet another pourakarmika in the audience stood up and shouted out to the Chief Minister that he too had been sent out of his quarters in Kodihalli five years ago
All this seemed to have put the Chief Minister in an introspective mood. He said he felt like "hanging his head in shame" for the Government's inability to reach the poorest of the poor. He also came down heavily on the official machinery for its failure to reach welfare schemes to the intended beneficiaries. "We will have ourselves to blame if the poor rise in rebellion and occupy the houses of the rich one day," he said. He had put forward a proposal for housing for the poor a month after he took over as Chief Minister, but it was yet to take off, he said.
The Chief Minister, who launched a host of welfare schemes for pourakarmikas, which were earlier announced in the Palike budget, said garlanding the picture of Ambedkar or making budgetary allocations made little sense if they did not translate into action.
Successive governments and officials, who were ever willing to provide infrastructure facilities to information technology and biotechnology industries, had failed to address the basic needs of the poor, Mr. Kumaraswamy said. He had seen people living in the most abysmal conditions during his trips to various localities after the recent rain havoc, he said. He called upon officials to take responsibility and find a permanent solution to the problem of flooding.
Earlier, several Palike workers' organisations presented memorandums to the Chief Minister with demands ranging from housing to enhancement of salaries. The Chief Minister and Minister for Science and Technology Ramachandra Gowda, who was among the guests at the function, suggested that they forward their demands in a united manner rather than as splintered groups. Among the other guests were Palike Commissioner K. Jairaj and Union Minister of State for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways K.H. Muniyappa.
Not all pourakarmikas in the auditorium packed to capacity were impressed with the Chief Minister's self-critical speech. One of them was heard asking loudly why Mr. Kumaraswamy's Government was auctioning the land recovered from encroachers to "real-estate agents" when it could use the same for providing houses for the poor.