Bangalore: For 64-year-old Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yeddyurappa, who was sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka on Monday, it is the culmination of a three-decade-old dream. He was sworn in as the 25th chief minister of the state, and the first-ever Bharatiya Janata Party CM in South India. Yeddyurappa represents the Shikaripur constituency of Shimoga district, and will head a coalition government with alliance partner Janata Dal (Secular). For the past 20 months, Yeddyurappa was not only the deputy chief minister of the state but was also its finance minister. The state’s finances have been hurt by a ban on sale of country liquor. This populist move has cost the exchequer more than Rs2,000 crore. In a brief interaction with Mint immediately after being sworn in, Yeddyurappa promised to fix the financial problems facing the state and improve the investment climate. Edited excerpts:
Won’t the political uncertainty in the state put off investors? What steps do you plan to take to improve the investment climate in Karnataka?
When we formed the government, the opposition had ridiculed it saying that we will not be in power for more than three months. And that our budget would be focused on elections. But we served (out) 20 months and it is (now) my turn. All the industries (should) come to Karnataka. I will give an assurance that we will provide all (necessary) support. It is my duty to invite investors to invest in the state. No other state has such a good educated workforce and high quality of labour as Karnataka. If we take the right steps, people will come.
What about infrastructure in Bangalore and other parts of the state? Some cities just seem to be falling apart.
We are aware of the infrastructure issues. The previous government had sanctioned airports in five cities—Mysore, Shimoga, Hassan, Gulbarga and Bijapur. The Bangalore international airport will open in April. We are concentrating on infrastructure development in Bangalore and other important cities (such as) Mangalore, Hubli and Dharwad.
Do you have any specific plan to tackle infrastructure-related issues?
It will be unveiled in our budget. My priority with Kumaraswamy [former chief minister of the state and leader of the JD(S)] is to come out with a good budget. The last two budgets (with me as finance minister) were good; it will only be better this year.
The state’s information technology sector is complaining that it is being neglected by the government. What do you intend to do to address these concerns?
Our government will be focused on overall development. Kumaraswamy and myself will sit down together and discuss plans on how to improve every sector. Agriculture is a priority, so is IT and biotechnology sector. There should be no worry from anyone on our commitment to make Karnataka the best (industrialized) state.