Government's commitment to President's vision questioned

Special Correspondent

Assembly discusses Kalam's address to joint session of the State legislature

Resolution for discussion moved by the Chief MinisterMembers differ over need for a discussionJ.C. Madhuswamy warns against display of `intellectual bankruptcy'

BANGALORE: Opposition members in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday questioned the Government's commitment to implementing the 11-point agenda outlined by President A.P.J Abdul Kalam in his address to the joint session of the State legislature on November 20, 2005, to mark the golden jubilee of the State's formation.

Dr. Kalam's 48-page "Missions for Karnataka's Prosperity" statement envisages various measures for eliminating poverty, illiteracy and Provision of Urban Facilities in Rural Areas (PURA) in the State.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy moved a resolution to set in motion a discussion on the President's address. Opinion was divided among the members on the need for such a debate.

Changed situation

Leader of the Opposition N. Dharam Singh, who initiated the debate, referred to the changed political situation after the formation of the present Government, which is a coalition of the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Dr. Kalam, he pointed out, had addressed the State legislature when he (Mr. Singh) was the Chief Minister. The new coalition is nothing but an unholy alliance, he said and described Mr. Kumaraswamy as "one of the most fortunate Chief Ministers of the State." The ideology and policies of the two coalition partners are contradictory, he said.

Mr. Singh wanted to know how much money the Government has set aside for implementing the development agenda suggested by Dr. Kalam. It cannot be achieved by mere speeches. He, however, welcomed the resolution to thank the President for his address.

Mr. Singh cautioned Mr. Kumaraswamy to be wary of the influence of what he termed the reactionary forces led by the BJP. The Government made many assurances during the past month, but there has been no progress on any front. The credit for launching projects such as the Bangalore Metro Rail and Bangalore International Airport should go to the Congress. The JD(S) had opposed the metro when it was part of his Government, he said.

`Debate unnecessary'

The leader of the Janata Dal (U) group, J.C. Madhuswamy, differed with the Government on the need for a three-day special session to debate the President's address. "What is the necessity for such an exercise," he asked. He wanted to know from the Speaker, Krishna, under which rule the House had taken up this address for debate.

The State is ahead of others in some areas, particularly in drinking water supply and surface water management. Some of the suggestions made by Dr. Kalam are already being implemented. Some of the recommendations of the D.M. Nanjundappa committee to redress regional imbalances are also being implemented. Therefore, when many of the suggestions made by the President have already been discussed, and some implemented, discussing the issues again would be a display of "intellectual bankruptcy," he said.

Unlike Tamil Nadu, growth in the State is concentrated in Bangalore. Steps need to be taken for balanced and diversified growth and to provide basic amenities in small towns and rural areas. Regular supply of power will stimulate growth in villages, he said.

Mr. Madhuswamy's remark that the Government is focussing only on the development of Bangalore came in sharp criticism from members representing constituencies in Bangalore.

V. Somanna (Congress) said Bangalore cannot be compared with Chikkanayakanahalli or Tumkur. Bangalore's population is one crore and the people are facing severe problems with regard to housing, water and sanitation.

K. Chandrashekar, N.L. Narendra Babu and Dinesh Gundu Rao (all Congress) said the Government has been utilising revenue generated in Bangalore for implementing schemes in other parts of the State.

The Kannada Chaluvaligar member, Vatal Nagaraj, opposed the reported moves to field a non-Kannadiga as a candidate for the Rajya Sabha.

Mr. Nagaraj noted that the major political parties are searching for a fourth candidate to be fielded in the elections from the Assembly. In the year of "Suvarna Karnataka," the parties must support a Kannadiga who has contributed to the progress of the State and not an outsider who has done nothing and will do nothing, he said.

He urged the Government to set up a House Committee to ensure that border areas are developed so that those living in these areas can live with pride. If the Nanjundappa committee report is implemented, it will be more than sufficient, he said.

`Requires vision'

Krishna Byre Gowda (Congress) said the President's vision has to be translated into reality, and that requires vision and zeal on the part of the Government. One of the suggestions made by the President on tapping the horticulture sector in Karnataka must be given serious thought, he said and mentioned how Kolar, which is known for delicious mangoes, has not got enough support in terms of marketing, cold storages and so on. The President's vision is to increase revenue from horticulture from Rs. 6,000 crores to Rs. 9,000 crores, he said.