Poll guarantees in Karnataka can be template for Congress in other states: Shivakumar

Bengaluru: Karnataka Cabinet on June 2 decides to implement the Congress’ five poll guarantees without any discrimination

BY , and | Sunday, 11 June, 2023
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar (PC: @DKShivakumar/ Twitter)

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar says the Congress’ poll promise of five guarantees was a “very tough call” and feels it can be a template for the party in other states depending upon their respective financial strength.

“Governments help big businesses by waiving off loans of crores of rupees, but how to help the common man? So we decided on guarantees,” Shivakumar told PTI in an interview here over the weekend.

He further said economic issues, unemployment and poverty are the core matters, not the ideological ones, as “they don’t fill the stomach.”

Shivakumar, 61, also claimed that the BJP and the JD(S) are joining hands in Karnataka for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, even as he expressed confidence about the Congress getting good numbers after its stunning performance in the recently concluded Assembly elections, ousting the saffron party from its lone southern citadel.

On the poll guarantees, he said the respective state units of the party will have to take the call.

To a question on whether poll guarantees can be the template for the Congress in other states where Assembly elections are due in the next one year since it seems to have been a key factor for its landslide victory in Karnataka, Shivakumar said it depends on the financial strength of the state concerned.

“It all depends upon their financial strength. Karnataka has financial strength. Why we gave these guarantees is because of the price rise. Prices have gone high while income has gone to the bottom, so in order to compensate for the price rise, we thought the government should help the people. We know that it is a very tough call we have taken,” said Shivakumar, who is also the KPCC chief, referring to the poll agenda to roll out citizen-centric promises.

The Karnataka Cabinet on June 2 decided to implement the Congress’ five poll guarantees without any discrimination on the basis of caste or religion and has fixed a timeline to operationalise the schemes within this financial year.

Recalling his statement calling the poll guarantees to provide subsidy benefits to people as “the first big political decision in the history of Indian politics”, Shivakumar said, “I’m right, it touches more than Rs 50,000 crore. In one day, in one cabinet meeting we have cleared it all to help the common man… We have literally walked the talk.”

Read more: Congress’ five ‘guarantees’ in Karnataka may cost state exchequer Rs 50,000 crore

The five guarantees are — 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 free rice 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).

To a question on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Shivakumar said his party will make “alternative plans” to counter the BJP and JD(S)’ poll strategy in Karnataka. The Congress has set a target of winning at least 20 out of the total of 28 parliamentary seats in the state.

“Don’t know about the national level. As far as Karnataka is concerned, BJP and JD(S) both of them are joining hands, this is what I have come to know,” said Shivakumar, who is considered to be a master strategist of the Congress.

“So we will make alternative plans. We don’t mind, let them join hands, but the Congress party will have a good number,” he said.

Karnataka has 28 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP had swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by winning 25 seats, while an independent backed by it bagged one seat. The Congress and JD(S) won one seat each.

There were reports in a section of the media that the JD(S) would enter into an alliance with the BJP to fight the Lok Sabha polls. It was also said that JD(S) leader and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy during his recent visit to New Delhi had met some senior BJP leaders.

The JD(S) has, however, denied these reports.

The KPCC chief, in response to a question, said “time will answer” as to how long he and his voters will have to wait with patience to see him as the chief minister of Karnataka.

On a visit to his Kanakapura constituency after becoming the deputy chief minister, Shivakumar last week had told his voters that their desire (to see him as chief minister) will never be false, and asked them to wait with patience.

He had also said that he gave up the race to become the chief minister and decided to remain “patient” following the advice of the Gandhis and Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge.

Several rounds of hectic parleys in New Delhi involving the AICC leadership last month had preceded government formation in Karnataka.

Siddaramaiah, the now chief minister, and Shivakumar were locked in an intense power struggle over who will lead the new Congress government after their party bagged 135 out of total 224 seats in the Assembly.

According to Shivakumar, the pro-poor agenda and localised campaign worked in favour of the Congress in the Assembly polls.

“Definitely the pro-poor agenda and localised campaign worked. We also worked as an organisation. We made our cadres, workers and leaders work, they did not sleep even for a day. I also didn’t sleep, and did not allow them to sleep. All of us worked together. It was a team effort,” he added.

Broadly throwing light on his and his party’s vision for Karnataka for the next five years, the state Congress president said, “We want to make Karnataka corruption free, we want to give a government with good governance.”

Bengaluru and Karnataka are known for unity in diversity nationally and internationally, he said.

“We want everyone to be peaceful and happy. I don’t want any communal issues. For example south canara and north canara (coastal areas) a lot of problems happened and no investors are ready to go there. Without creating job opportunities we cannot satisfy the youngsters. If there are no jobs all the human resources we have built will go outside the state. Employment, good governance and a feeling of change is important.”

“Not only Brand Bengaluru, we want Brand Karnataka,” Shivakumar, who is the Minister in-charge for Bengaluru Development said.

“We are branding Bengaluru for a better Bengaluru. I’m just working on it, I have just reviewed the working of various agencies in the city,” he added.

Asked for his comments on him being described as a master strategist, trouble shooter, tactician and a go-to-man, he said, “It is the creation of the media and some political leaders, but basically I’m a party cadre, a grass root worker. I can understand the sentiment of the common man. Ultimately they (people) should be happy, they should feel they are safe in this Congress government.”

You cannot copy content of this page