- Mahesh Kulkarni
When the voting begins for bypolls to the Lok Sabha seats of Mandya and Bangalore Rural on Wednesday, Siddaramaiah will complete 100 days as the chief minister of the Congress party government in Karnataka, and the results thereafter might well be a good indication on how he has fared.
During the first 100 days, his government is credited with fulfilling some ambitious programmes of the party, announced in the pre-poll manifesto.
The most important of that is the implementation of the Rs 1 per kg rice scheme (Annabhagya Scheme), wherein every Below Poverty Line family having more than two members would get 30 kg rice per month.
Another achievement was the implementation of a loan waiver for backward classes. The two schemes cost the state exchequer over Rs 5,500 crore.
One of the most important achievements for Siddaramaiah was that he presented a full-fledged budget for 2013-14. This was his record eighth budget as finance minister of the state. Though he has not announced any major programme, he has not reduced value-added tax (VAT) rates.
S Venkataramani, co-chairman, indirect and state taxes expert committee, Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC), said: "The state government should have considered reducing the service tax slab rates, which still remains a huge burden on both the consumers and the industry."
Though 100 days are a very short period to assess a government's performance, Siddaramaiah has had a fair share of both success and controversies.
However, the highlight of his short stint is that there has been no fresh scam in the government.
As promised before the polls, the chief minister has managed to give a clean, fair and transparent government till now.
Siddaramaiah started his innings cautiously by forming a ministry with a fairly clean image. He has managed to keep out several tainted legislators like D K Shivakumar and Roshan Baig.
But he had to induct others like Santhosh Lad, who has considerable stake in mining firm V S Lad & Sons, which is categorised in Category C by the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee. The leases of all Category C mines were cancelled.
Image: Siddaramaiah folds his hands in a namaste after meeting the State Governor in Bangalore, 18 May 2004. (AFP)
Text: Business Standard