Politics overshadows Siddaramaiah’s budget reply

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BANGALORE, July 31: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday told the Legislative Assembly that any attempt to displace him as the head of the government will not yield any result and that he is confident of retaining his position for the full term of five years.

The reply of the government to the demands made by the members during the discussion on the budget estimates over the past few days was overshadowed with the Chief Minister recalling the political developments in the State in the past two decades and in particular, the matter relating to his elevation as Chief Minister being stalled twice, resulting in him having to serve as Deputy Chief Minister in the governments of the late J.H. Patel and that of N. Dharam Singh.

The acrimonious debate lasted over 90 minutes with the Leader of the Opposition and the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy demanding a statement from All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi, who, according to him, was involved in the discussion to choose the Chief Minister during the formation of the first of the coalition governments in the State in 2004 consequent to a fractured mandate in the Assembly elections.

Mr. Siddaramaiah scotched rumours that the Chief Minister would be replaced after the elections to the Lok Sabha saying that the rumours had been set afloat by the Opposition parties. “The Congress has a good and united leadership and the high command is strong. We are all together and any attempt to divide us will not yield any result. Nobody can sow differences among Congress workers as we are a well-knit unit,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that the Congress has formed the government thanks to the good mandate that it received from the people in the last Assembly elections unlike in 2008 when the Bharatiya Janata Party formed the Government with the support of independents and thereafter launched “Operation Kamala” to woo legislators of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular).

Further, in 2008 while the Congress polled 34.90 per cent of the votes, the BJP had polled 33.86 per cent of the votes.

On the statement made by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa in the Assembly that in reciprocation to the victory he had given the BJP the latter had given him poison, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that the efforts of Mr. Yeddyurappa now to unite the Opposition ranks will not pay dividend. On the contrary, the BJP will again dump him. The BJP, the Karnataka Janata Party and the BSR Congress had together polled 32.37 per cent of the votes in the recent Assembly elections, while the Congress polled 36.59 per cent of the votes. “Even if you all come together, you cannot win. I am confident that the Congress will secure 20 of the 28 seats in the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

Mr. Kumaraswamy, with reference to the charge that the Janata Dal(S) had denied chief ministership to Mr. Siddaramaiah, said, “We have not stabbed you in the back. In fact, people in your group had worked against you. It is wrong to allege that the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda did not want you as the Chief Minister.”

Then, the Chief Minister thanked all the members of the Assembly, particularly the Opposition, for a fruitful discussion on the budget estimates over the past few days. “It has been several years since an Assembly session has been held without any walkouts and dharnas. I thank you all for the cooperation and we are keen on having 60 days of session in a calendar year as stipulated by the law,” he said.

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