BJP, Congress set for budget day standoff in Karnataka

Updated on Feb 08, 2019 11:21 AM IST

The 2019 budget for Karnataka is set to be read out amid protests by the BJP, whose legislators entered the well of the House for a second day, having ensured on Wednesday that governor Vajubhai Vala cut short his address to the joint sitting of both Houses.

Bengaluru: BJP legislators raise slogans as Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala addresses the joint session of Assembly on the first day of the Budget Session at Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru, Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019.(AP)
Bengaluru: BJP legislators raise slogans as Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala addresses the joint session of Assembly on the first day of the Budget Session at Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru, Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019.(AP)
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru | By

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy is set to present the state budget for 2019-20 on Friday at 12.32 pm, considered an auspicious time — a move that has come in for criticism from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

This will be the second budget of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government and is set to be along the lines of the one presented in July, in which the chief minister announced the farm loan waiver scheme, which he said, would cost the exchequer 45,000 crore.

However, the 2019 budget is set to be read out amid protests by the BJP, whose legislators entered the well of the House for a second day, having ensured on Wednesday that governor Vajubhai Vala cut short his address to the joint sitting of both Houses.

“They have chosen to present the budget at 12.32 pm because they are afraid this government is set to collapse. That is why they have reposed faith in astrology,” BJP leader R Ashok said.

Although the BJP claimed that the government did not enjoy a majority, its leaders said they would not move a no-confidence motion against the ruling coalition. In this, the BJP has been emboldened by the continued absence of four rebel Congress MLAs – Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathahalli, Umesh Jadhav and B Nagendra—and MLA J N Ganesh, who is absconding after a brawl with a colleague at a Bengaluru resort.

At present, the coalition enjoys the support of 117 MLAs — 79 of the Congress, 37 of the JD(S) and one legislator of the Bahujan Samaj Party. This number excludes speaker K R Ramesh Kumar. The BJP, meanwhile, has the support of 104 MLAs.

Apart from them, there are two independent MLAs, who withdrew support to the government last month, and are expected by the coalition to vote against the finance bill, if the BJP insists on a division of votes.

Speaking to reporters, former chief minister and Congress Legislature Party chief Siddaramaiah condemned the behaviour of the BJP, saying the party did not believe in democracy. “The BJP doesn’t believe in democracy, if it did its MLAs wouldn’t have disrupted the governor’s speech,” he said.

Taking on the opposition for its sloganeering in the House on Thursday that the government did not enjoy a majority, Siddaramaiah challenged BJP leaders to move a no-confidence motion.

“They don’t want the assembly to function because they have worked hard to ensure this government falls, they offered money to MLAs, and have even given money to some, according to my information,” he added.

The former chief minister said the Congress would take a decision on the rebels after the CLP meeting at 9 am on Friday. “The whip has been issued...I am an optimist and feel that all the MLAs will be present tomorrow,” he said.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary in-charge of Karnataka Manicka Tagore alleged the BJP was trying to destabilise an elected government through “horse-trading”. “A desperate BJP is using every agency to destabilise the JD(S)-Congress government but we have the numbers and the coalition will not only remain intact but also win all the Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming elections,” he said.

Former chief minister and state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa, though, stuck to the party’s claim that the government did not enjoy a majority. “This government doesn’t have a moral right to present the budget. The people of the state don’t have confidence in this government because Congress leaders keep saying Siddaramaiah is their chief minister,” he said.

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