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Karnataka Cabinet decides to implement all five poll guarantees of Congress, fixes timeline

BENGALURU: The Karnataka Cabinet on Friday decided to implement the ruling Congress’s five poll guarantees, without any discrimination of caste or religion, and has fixed a timeline to operationalise the schemes within this financial year, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said.

The Cabinet held a detailed discussion regarding the five guarantees and their implementation, and has arrived at some decisions, Siddaramaiah, who headed the meeting, told reporters at a press conference.

He, however, did not answer how much the five guarantees will cost the exchequer, and said, ”I will share it later.” Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar described it as a ”historic day” as the Congress government has walked the talk on fulfilling the poll guarantees, and has fixed a timeline for their implementation.

The party’s national leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted about the decision to implement the five poll guarantees, saying unlike the BJP, the Congress kept its promises to the people. ”Congress does what it says, does not make empty promises like BJP! 5 guarantees come into force in Karnataka,” Gandhi tweeted, listing out all five guarantees.

The Opposition BJP and the JD(S) have however accused the Congress of trying to cheat voters after coming to power by attaching conditions to avail of the guarantee schemes — which were not mentioned ahead of the polls.

In its manifestor for the Assembly elections, the Congress had promised to implement five guarantees — 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduates and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders, both in the age group of 18-25 (YuvaNidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti), on coming to power.

The ‘Gruha Jyothi’ scheme to provide up to 200 units free electricity per month to every household will be implemented from July 1, Siddaramaiah said. However, the arrears have to be paid by the customers.

Under this scheme, the government will take into account the one-year average of power consumption and will give free electricity up to 10 per cent more than the average usage, he said, ”This is in order to avoid misuse. Someone who has not crossed 70 units per month in 12 months, can he suddenly use 150 or 200 units? Can it happen? So we are taking the average.” Shivakumar said 200 units is the cap.

Stating that the scheme will be applicable for consumers using less than 200 units, a senior official clarified that if there is an abnormal increase from past consumption, the consumer has to pay the differential.

”Whosoever (consumer) is at the past level of consumption, his bill will be reimbursed to that extent, subject to him being within 200 units of consumption per month. So he will get zero bill and will not have to pay. If there is an abnormal increase, one has to pay the differential,” he added.

Speaking about the ‘Gruha Lakshmi’ scheme that provides Rs 2,000 per month to women heads of the family — the ‘kartha’, the CM said it will be implemented from August 15.

He said the application can be submitted for this, even online, from June 15 to July 15, and the applicants who want to be beneficiaries under the scheme will have to submit their Aadhaar and bank account details along with their applications, which will be processed before the launch in August.

The scheme will be applicable to both BPL and APL card holders, he said, adding that the beneficiaries of social security schemes will also get the benefit.

Siddaramaiah also announced that under ‘Anna Bhagya’, 10 kg of food grains will be given to every member of a BPL household and ‘Antyodaya’ card holders from July 1.

”This scheme will be launched from July 1 as the food grains for the month of June have already been dispatched and additional food grains have to be procured,” he said.

The chief minister also said that under ‘Shakti’ scheme, from June 1, women can travel for free in public transport buses other than AC, luxury buses in Karnataka.

”All women from all classes, including students, can travel free of cost within the state in BMTC (Bengaluru) and KSRTC buses… Under this scheme, women can avail services of 94 per cent of the buses.” He also said that the KSRTC will reserve 50 per cent seats for men and keep the remaining for women.

”Bus travel is free for my wife too…,” was the witty reply of Siddaramaiah to a reporter’s question about free bus travel for women.

Further, under the ‘YuvaNidhi’ scheme, unemployed youngsters who graduated in 2022-23 will be provided an unemployment dole of Rs 3,000 for graduates and Rs 1,500 for diploma holders for 24 months from the date of registration, the CM said, adding that if they find a job in the meantime, then the dole would be stopped.

”One needs to apply under this scheme. We will call for applications soon,” he said, adding that this scheme will be applicable to gender minorities too.

There was mounting pressure on the new government from opposition parties and various sections of people from across the state to fulfill its five guarantees as promised ahead of the polls. They have been questioning the delay in implementing the schemes.

In view of the implementation of the guarantees, the chief minister had held a meeting on Wednesday with all the ministers and senior officials of the departments concerned, at Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state secretariat and legislature here, during which officials shared their inputs and the financial implications of operationalising the schemes.

Following the meeting, the chief minister and his council of ministers had asked officials to do some reworking of the proposals and get back on Friday, postponing the Cabinet meeting, which was initially scheduled for Thursday.

After having accorded in-principal approval for the guarantees in the first cabinet meeting on May 20, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had said they would ”most likely” be implemented after the next Cabinet meeting. He had also said that initial estimates indicate that it would cost the exchequer Rs 50,000 crore annually.

Senior BJP leader Basavaraj Bommai on Friday said the ruling party should not push the state into financial hardship to implement its guarantee schemes.

Congress had promised people a lot before the elections, the former chief minister said, alleging that the party had cheated the people. Pointing to the conditions attached to avail of the guarantee schemes, he said, ”There is a big difference between the pre-election and the post-election statements of the party.” Former Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, calling the ruling Congress regime a ”condition government”, said, ”I am in no rush to discuss or review guarantees, I am patient. However, I am pained that the promises made before winning the votes became ‘conditional’ after coming to power. People’s patience is bound to wear thin, I will wait and stand with them.”

Source: Press Trust of India

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