Hindutva in focus as Bommai unveils ₹3L cr budget in poll-bound Karnataka | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Hindutva in focus as Bommai unveils 3L cr budget in poll-bound Karnataka

By, Bengaluru
Feb 18, 2023 04:23 AM IST

For the first time, the Budget outlay in the state crossed the ₹3 lakh crore mark. According to the budget document, the outlay increased from ₹2,65,720 crore to ₹3,09,182 crore for 2023-24.

Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday promised comprehensive development and renovation of temples and monasteries and announced 425 crore allocation for it as he presented a revenue surplus Budget with no proposed new taxes months before the state is due to go to the polls.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai shows the State Budget for the financial year 2023-24 prior to presenting it in the State Assembly, in Bengaluru on Friday. (ANI)
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai shows the State Budget for the financial year 2023-24 prior to presenting it in the State Assembly, in Bengaluru on Friday. (ANI)

The Budget speech started amid a protest from opposition Congress leaders, who attended the session wearing a flower in their ear to claim people in the state are being fooled by the government.

For the first time, the Budget outlay in the state crossed the 3 lakh crore mark. According to the budget document, the outlay increased from 2,65,720 crore to 3,09,182 crore for 2023-24.

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The Budget, however, stood out for the schemes aimed at the Hindu vote bank. Bommai announced the construction of the Ram temple in Ramanagara district, which is a stronghold of the JD(S) and Congress, where BJP is attempting to establish a foothold.

“In the next two years, comprehensive development and renovation of temples and mutts (monasteries) will be undertaken...with an expenditure of 1,000 crore,” he said in his Budget speech.

Bommai announced a new scheme, Shrama Shakthi, to provide financial assistance of 500 monthly to landless women farm labourers and free bus passes for women working in organised sectors. He said the 1,000 crore scheme for the passes will benefit around 300,000 women. Similarly, free passes will be given to all school and college students under the Vidhya Vahini scheme.

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Bommai also announced the construction of 250 “She Toilets” at a cost of 50 crore in markets and commercial complexes in Bengaluru.

The programmes have been aimed at countering the Congress, which is focusing on women ahead of the polls. On January 16, the Congress promised to introduce Gruha Lakshmi scheme for providing 2,000 monthly to women-led households if it was voted to power in the state. At a Na Nayaki (I am a woman leader) convention, the party said the direct benefit scheme will help 150 million housewives.

Bommai announced a 9,698 crore grant for Bengaluru’s development. The grant will finance a five-kilometre elevated road at a cost of 350 crore from Tin Factory to Medahalli, an integrated flyover from Yeshwantpur Railway Station to Mathikere, etc.

Bommai said the fiscal deficit has been reined in at 60,581 crore, or 2.60% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). He presented a revenue surplus budget of 402 crore. This broke the trend of revenue deficit budgets over the last two years. The state’s liabilities have been pegged at 5.64 lakh crore or 24.20% of GSDP at the end of 2023-24 with borrowings of 77,750 crore.

Bommai said Karnataka’s GSDP recorded a growth of 7.9% in 2022-23, citing advance estimates. He added services and manufacturing sectors have grown by 9.2% and 5.1% and mainly fuelled the GSDP growth. “The resurgence of the economy in 2022-23 has pushed the per capita income of the state from 2.04 lakh to 3.32 lakh,” he said. “I could have said that I will allocate so much money for each section without any plans, just for the sake of votes... But we are a responsible party, government and (this is a ) responsible budget,” Bommai said.

The Congress attacked the government, saying the state has amassed debt of 3.24 lakh crore in five years from 2018 and 2023.

“This is the BJP government’s election Budget. Since the election is in two months, this can be called the exit budget of the BJP government,” said Congress leader Siddarmaiah.

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