Ahead of budget, Karnataka CM Bommai heads to Delhi

Published on Feb 07, 2022 12:35 AM IST

The meeting comes nearly a week after the Union budget allocated no special provisions for Karnataka and focused more on sector-specific allocations, which Bommai has said will benefit the state.

Despite being one of the most industrialised states with a higher contribution to union coffers, Karnataka has been at a significant disadvantage in recent years on account of the new calculations under the 15th Finance Commission. (HT)
Despite being one of the most industrialised states with a higher contribution to union coffers, Karnataka has been at a significant disadvantage in recent years on account of the new calculations under the 15th Finance Commission. (HT)
By, Bengaluru

Karnataka chief minister (CM) Basavaraj Bommai will leave for Delhi on Monday to seek support from the Union government for the state budget, to be presented in March first week.

“I have sought appointment with Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. I intend to discuss the state budget, its financial aspects and GST among other issues. Will also meet the Lok Sabha representatives from the state, including legal counsels who are representing Karnataka in inter-state water disputes,” Bommai said on Sunday.

“A few important decisions will be taken on the future course of action,” he added.

Despite being one of the most industrialized states with a higher contribution to union coffers, Karnataka has been at a significant disadvantage in recent years on account of the new calculations under the 15th Finance Commission.

The Commission reduced the state’s share from 4.71% to 3.64% in central taxes forcing it to find other options for revenues to make up for the shortfall. According to the 2020-21 budget estimates, Karnataka was set to lose at least 20,000 crore due to reduction in share of central taxes.

The meeting comes nearly a week after the Union budget allocated no special provisions for Karnataka and focused more on sector-specific allocations, which Bommai has said will benefit the state.

“As the budget has increased the capital expenditure, (the) state is expected to get about 3,500 crore more under the Capital Account compared to last year. Karnataka is set to benefit from the big thrust allocated for the railways, national highways and infrastructure projects. ‘Namma Metro’ is likely to get a bigger allocation under the urban transport sector,” Bommai had said on February 1.

This time expectations are high from the Karnataka budget as it comes a year before the state heads to the assembly polls next year and at a time when the Bommai-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government remains a divided house.

With party legislators haggling over the likely cabinet expansion as well as lack of funds for their constituencies, the apparent discord and inaction to deal with raging issues, including the reservation row, has left Bommai vulnerable to demands.

The heads of at least 37 monasteries have already met with the chief minister with a wish-list that includes financial assistance of around 5 crore each and land near Bengaluru for development of educational institutes and other infrastructure.

Bommai is also staring at upcoming contests like the Zilla and Taluka Panchayat elections as well as polls for Bengaluru city corporation for which he would have to make allocations to the distressed farm sector as well as announce big-ticket plans for India’s IT capital.

The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) also continue to pile pressure on Bommai and his government, which has been embroiled in several controversies including corruption, rising instances of religious intolerance and infighting.The recent allocations of district in-charge ministers also fuelled the growing divide in the state.

There are also claims made by leaders from both national parties (the Congress and the BJP) of being ‘in touch’ with legislators from the other side, indicating more defections in the coming days.

“Will anyone want to join a sinking ship? The intelligent ones will look to come out,” CT Ravi, BJP legislator from Chikmagalur and national general secretary of the party said.

BJP legislators had also expressed their concerns about being allocated non-home districts.

“This is a new experiment and we may get positive results otherwise this is not permanent. If there are good results, then we can continue it if not the chief minister will change them. This is an experiment,” he added.

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