The winter session of Karnataka Legislature will begin at Belgaum on Monday with the opposition seeking to put the six-month old Siddaramaiah government on the mat on various issues.
Even as BJP and JD-S geared up for a major assault on the Congress government by taking up Minister Santosh Lad’s alleged involvement in illegal mining, his resignation two days back took the wind out of the opposition’s sail.
With the opposition ratcheting up pressure, Lad had quit as Minister of State for Information and Infrastructure Development, in the first political casualty of the Congress dispensation in the state, saying he did not want to embarrass his party and the government.
Mr. Lad’s resignation is mostly seen as a move by the government to take the sting out of the onslaught by the opposition which had expected that the Chief Minister would defend Lad, a mining baron from Bellary district which had become infamous for illegal mining.
The iron ore mining company in which Mr. Lad is a partner is linked to another firm owned by his kith and kin which allegedly indulged in illegal mining. Lad had repeatedly denied the charge.
Outwitted, BJP now says it will take up developmental issues concerning north Karnataka and “policy of appeasement” of minorities by the Congress government, while JD-S has decided to raise issues concerning farmers, among others.
This will be the fourth legislature session to be held in Belgaum in north Karnataka since 2006 when the move was initiated by the JD(S)-BJP coalition government. This was followed by construction of Suvarna Soudha, modelled on the Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat, by the BJP government as an assertion that Belgaum is an integral part of Karnataka.
Maharashtra claims Belgaum should belong to it.
The government had reportedly planned to introduce the anti-superstition bill in the Belgaum session but apparently developed cold feet after it came under attack from BJP and a section of society which contended that several of its provisions targeted Hindu beliefs and practices. The government now says that the legislation would be brought forth after wider consultations.
A point of interest would be whether Karnataka Janatha Paksha led by former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa would be on the same page as the BJP, amid vigorous efforts by his outfit to become part of NDA well before the Lok Sabha polls.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in the city where some 5,000 personnel, including Rapid Action Force, have been deployed.