Meagre allocation for irrigation criticised
Separate Ministry to handle midday meal scheme sought
Bangalore: The former Union Minister V. Srinivas Prasad of the Congress could grant only pass class to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who also holds the finance portfolio, for giving a semblance of relief to all sections in his budget.
Expressing his opinion in the Legislative Assembly, while participating in the debate on the budget, Mr. Prasad said announcements such as raising the retirement age of government employees to 60 years and perks to the thousands of members of village panchayats would certainly fetch the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) some vote in the coming Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and the Lok Sabha elections.
With such populist measures, he said Mr. Yeddyurappa could not get distinction, but only pass marks. Reacting to the BJP’s worry that the 20-month coalition experiment did not help the people, Mr. Prasad said whether the installation of the party in power had helped the voters or not, but it certainly helped the party and Mr. Yeddyurappa. Karnataka also became gateway to the party in the southern India, he added.
He came down heavily for proposing to provide funds for developing infrastructure in Bangalore by fetching Rs. 3,000 crore from the proceeds of the government land sale. He termed the allocation of Rs. 3,468 crore for irrigation out of Rs. 55,000 crore as meagre, if it was compared to Rs.36,000 crore out of Rs. 1 lakh crore budget in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, he added.
Concerned about growing non-plan expenditure, Mr. Prasad criticised raising allocation for non-plan expenditure to 52 per cent as compared to 48 per cent for planned programmes, which was the sign of bad planning and financial indiscipline. Referring to the support of six independents including four belonging to the Scheduled Caste MLAs, which was crucial to the stability of the BJP Government, Mr. Prasad said that they should have been given important portfolios.
While praising Mr. Yeddyurappa for extending the midday meal programme to the students in 8th standard, he urged for a separate ministry and a directorate to handle the Rs. 1,000-crore scheme, aiming at helping the children improve their health and education. Why no efforts to improve the living condition of the pourakarmikas, mostly belonging to the SCs by increasing their wages, providing decent houses and education to their children, he asked. The government, he said should start a corporation for implementing these measures.
On the recent judgment of the Karnataka High Court, quashing the State Government`s policy of imposing Kannada/mother tongue of the students in unaided primary schools, the Congress leader criticised the government for not being serious in filing an appeal before the Supreme Court. The primary schools in Maharashtra were following the same language policy without any problem, he reminded. He charged the BJP with weaning away Opposition legislators to its side, instead of attending to important and urgent responsibilities and warned that it may be thrown out of power, as in the case of the Congress Governments in the State when it failed in handling language and farmers issues.