Amid the political slugfest on the border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra, the 10-day Winter session of the State legislature will commence on Monday in the border town of Belagavi.
As the elections to the Legislative Assembly are scheduled to be held April-May next year, this would be the last session of this government in Belagavi. Only the joint session and budget session of the legislature will be held in Bengaluru before elections are announced.
The session would provide a platform for the government as well the Opposition to assess their strength and weaknesses in the northern region ahead of elections.
Among the significant issues likely to dominate both the Houses are the alleged theft of voters’ data, government’s move to provide internal reservation among Scheduled Castes and the demand for increase in quota by various communities, sugarcane growers’ demand for higher fair and remunerative price (FRP), and the delay in elections to rural local bodies.
The border issue with Maharashtra is likely to echo during the session, though Home Minister Amit Shah has asked both states not to claim any territory or make any demands till the Supreme Court gives its verdict. The Congress has claimed that the government has deliberately raked up the border dispute for diversion of attention from the real problems such as inflation, unemployment and corruption.
Among key issues, the principal Opposition Congress is expected to raise the alleged voter data stealing, with the tacit support of the BJP government, by Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust, an NGO, in Bengaluru. This issue has generated political heat over the last month and there are allegations of similar scams outside Bengaluru.
As the government decided to increase the quota for SCs and STs by 2% and 4% respectively, leaders of various communities are expected to stage demonstrations before the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha seeking upward revision of reservation for them.
Significant among them is the long-pending demand of the Panchamashali Lingayats for quota under Category 2A of Backward Classes from the present Category 3B. Kurubas, who are presently OBCs, have been demanding to be bracketed under ST. The Veerashaiva-Lingayat and Vokkaligas too have been seeking a higher percentage of quota.
Delay in elections
The Opposition Congress and JD(S) are expected to question the government on the delay in holding elections to ZPs, TPs and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike citing delimitation of wards.
With elections close at hand, the Congress is likely to step up its allegations of ‘40% corruption’ in recruitment and execution of public works, failure in handling Bengaluru’s infrastructure, delay in getting clearances for the Mekedatu project and tardy progress of other irrigation projects
The government is expected to come under the scrutiny on the progress of investigations in the Mangaluru cooker blast case and sharing of dais with rowdies by BJP leaders at a function in Bengaluru.
From the treasury benches, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is expected to lead the attack against the Opposition by harking back on alleged corrupt deals during the previous Congress regime.
Bills related to land reforms and Kannada comprehensive development, which were tabled in the previous session in Bengaluru, are likely to get the legislature’s nod.
Since the session is being conducted in Belagavi, issues of Kalyana Karnataka and North Karnataka regions are expected to dominate the proceedings.
On the first day, members will condole the death of Deputy Speaker Anand Mamani and other personalities.
Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri reviewed the security, transport and accommodation arrangements for the session. He is expected to announce the ‘best legislator’ award during the session. Former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa was the first recipient of the award.