‘Tax rich and spend on poor for their uplift is our economics’: Karnataka CM | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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‘Tax rich and spend on poor for their uplift is our economics’: Karnataka CM

PTI | | Posted by Yamini C S
Feb 21, 2024 11:24 AM IST

Karnataka CM stood by his government's economic model, saying it uplifts the poor, and slammed the BJP for an “anti-Constitution” ideology.

Strongly defending his government's guarantee schemes, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said there was nothing called "Siddanomics" and he and his government believed in "good economics", which means taxing the rich in accordance with law and spending the money on the poor for their uplift.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. (ANI)
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. (ANI)

He also asserted that his government is working towards protecting the Constitution and making Karnataka "Sarva Janangada Shantiya Tota" (the peaceful garden of all communities) and alleged that the BJP believes in "Manuwad" and not the Constitution. The CM was replying to the motion of thanks to the Governor's address to the joint sitting of Karnataka Legislature, in the Legislative Assembly.

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The motion was later passed by the Lower House, even as opposition BJP and JD(S) staged a walkout, alleging that the Chief Minister was making a political speech ahead of Lok Sabha polls, instead of replying to issues raised, while no developmental work has taken place in nine months since Congress came to power.

"Kumaraswamy (JDS leader) is not here, he used the term Siddanomics (describing Siddaramaiah's approach to state's finances), I have never come across this word. Is there such an economics, have you read it or heard it? Is there such a book? I haven't seen it," Siddaramaiah said. Noting that there is good and bad economics, he said, "I believe in good economics. I present (the budget) under good economics. Our economics is taxing the rich in accordance with law and spending it on the poor. That's what we have done."

Through five guarantees the government has worked towards strengthening the poor and downtrodden socially and economically, he further said, "This is good economics. This is the economics of self respect....We have spent 36,000 crore for five guarantees and I have set aside about 52,000 crore in the budget for the next year."

READ | BJP MLAs stage demo in Karnataka assembly protesting case booked against lawyers

Leader of Opposition R Ashoka and former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai took a swipe at Siddaramaiah, saying the Chief Minister should take "Siddanomics" as a compliment and consider it as a brand given to his economics. Defending his government's policies and programmes, the CM alleged that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre was "anti-poor, anti-farmer, anti-backward class, anti-women, anti -minorities and anti-labourers".

Also calling it "anti-Constitution", he said, "they (BJP) want to change the Constitution, they don't believe in the Constitution. They believe in Manuwad...the Constitution has protected us. If Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister, if they (BJP) have become MLAs, if we have become MLAs, it is because of the Constitution. We believe in the Constitution, we don't believe in Manuwad."

Hitting back at the opposition over its accusation that the Congress government in the state had made the Governor utter lies in his customary address to both Houses of Legislature, Siddaramaiah said the former has spoken the truth and it has reached the people, who have already given the "certificate" to his party. "BJP is a party of lies and that party members were experts in speaking lies," he alleged.

The Chief Minister attacked BJP and the union government over alleged "injustice" to Karnataka in tax devolution, grants-in-aid, delay in drought relief and delay in clearance or approval for several mega development projects, while highlighting the losses incurred by the state under the 15th Finance Commission.

Siddaramaiah said when he along with Ministers, Congress MLAs and MPs from Karnataka staged a protest in Delhi demanding that the injustice be set right, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Congress of trying to divide the country.

"But, what had Modi said as Gujarat CM?" he asked.

Also, trying to defend "separate nation" remarks by Congress MP D K Suresh, he said, "Narendra Modi as Gujarat CM in 2012-13 criticised then central government on tax devolution to his state and had said -- you (Centre) don't collect tax from our state and also don't give us anything (in terms of devolution) to us -- What should we call it?" Dismissing opposition allegations, he said law and order in Karnataka was maintained efficiently. Investments worth 77,000 crore have flown into the state in the last nine months since Congress came to power.

READ | Cong govt in Karnataka slashes property tax penalties by 50 pc in Bengaluru, relief for taxpayers

Rejecting the narrative that the state government was adopting a confrontational approach with the Centre, Siddaramaiah explained the efforts taken by his government to get central funds and clearances for projects. "We are not indulging in any confrontation or conflict, we are only seeking justice for Karnataka and demanding that the injustice be set right. If we don't do it, we will be doing injustice to seven crore Kannadigas. It's our duty and responsibility."

He targeted BJP legislators and 27 MPs (along with one JD(S) and an independent) for not raising with the Centre "injustice" done to Karnataka and pointed out that "we are in a federal structure." Responding to the Chief Minister's claim that the state government has been working for the uplift of SC/STs, Bommai sought to know about more than 11,000 crore SC/ST funds being diverted to other schemes.

To this, Siddaramaiah hit back saying it was his government which brought in a law on Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan (SCSP-TSP) and challenged BJP to introduce a legislation on SCSP-TSP at the Centre, if it is really concerned about welfare of SC/ST communities. "They (BJP) only talk about SC/ST and chant slogan 'Sab ka Sath, Sab ka Vikas'," he said.

When the CM tried to compare his government's higher allocation for SC/ST with the previous BJP regime in the state, Bommai pointed out that budget size had shrunk then, due to COVID pandemic. "Give the correct picture, don't lie," the BJP leader said.

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