Bounty for religious bodies in BJP's pre-poll Karnataka budget

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 08, 2013 13:00 hrs

Bangalore, Feb 8 (IANS) More than Rs.125 crore for religious organisations, rice at Rs.2 a kg for poor, schemes to woo farmers, benefit for government employees working in Bangalore, and no fresh taxes mark the BJP government's 2013-14 budget presented Friday to poll-bound Karnataka assembly.

The overall outlay of the budget presented by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar is Rs.117,005 crore, including Rs.22,310 crore for agriculture. The allocation for agriculture is presented as a separate budget since 2011.

This is Shettar's first budget and the Bharatiya Janata Party's last of its first term in office in this southern state.

Elections to the 225-member assembly, which includes one nominated member, are due in May.

Shettar continued the tradition of doling out public funds to 'maths' run by various communities. The practice was started by the BJP's first chief minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has since quit the party to lead the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP).

Shettar said: "An amount of Rs.100 Crore will be provided for buildings, development of works, rejuvenation works and other activities of religious institutions of different communities."

Besides this, he allocated over Rs.25 crore mainly to maths run by Lingayats, the state's dominant caste group which is generally believed to be backing the BJP. Shettar belongs to the community.

Claiming the budget proposals aimed at "inclusive growth", Shettar, who took office in July last year as the BJP's third chief minister in the state, sought assembly approval for a vote on account till July 31 as the legislature would not have time to debate and approve the budget.

The session began Feb 4 and is to end Feb 15.

Shettar kept his pre-budget word that he will present "people friendly budget".

The presentation went off smoothly and was a relief to both Shettar and the BJP as Yeddyurappa had threatened to pull down the government ahead of the budget day.

Yeddyurappa got 13 other party assembly members to quit the party and the house ahead of the budget session.

However, he could not get any more of his supporters to quit the BJP and Shettar is surviving with a wafer-thin majority in the assembly.

The main budget proposals are: rice at Rs.2 a kg to the below poverty line families, setting up of Farmers Income Commission, continuation of scheme for zero interest short-term crop loan of up to Rs.100,000, government staff working in Bangalore city to now get 30 percent instead of 25 percent of their basic pay as house rent allowance, financial support to set up Cyber Cafes in each grama panchayat (Village panchayat).

For the much needed improvement of Bangalore infrastructure, Shettar has allocated just Rs.6,203 crore.

More from Sify: