BENGALURU: The H.D.Kumaraswamy-led coalition government on Thursday managed to pass the Appropriation Bill or Finance Bill, not only allaying fears that several within its ranks could turn hostile but actually emerging stronger as an alliance than how they started the session.
The return of Congress rebels and the support extended by an independent legislator helping the coalition pass the all important Finance Bill even though not even a minute of the session was used to discuss the budget.
Interestingly, the three hour and four minute long budget speech last Friday, which Kumaraswamy claimed was the longest ever, accounting for almost 20% of the time in a session that functioned for just over 15 hours since 6 February.
Chief minister Kumaraswamy's decision to release an audio recording to corner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on budget day dominating the entire proceedings of the house, that is likely to reconvene only after the conclusion of the Lok Sabha elections.
Though the session, that concluded on Thursday, was dominated by protests by the BJP over the government's insistence of setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the contents of the audio recording, the attack on Preetham Gowda's house in Hassan, the sexist and insensitive remarks by the assembly speaker K.R.Ramesh Kumar among other issues that did not include the budget.
The BJP had hoped to capitalise on the differences between the Congress and JD(S) to bring down the government. But the audio tape, that purportedly has BJP state president B.S.Yeddyurappa offering money and plum ministerial posts to a JD(S) legislator to switch sides, putting the saffron party on the back foot and blunting at least this round of attacks to pull down the government that enjoys only a slender majority.
The return of Ramesh Jarkiholi, B.Nagendra, Mahesh Kumathalli and Umesh Jadhav, suspected to be in talks with BJP, helping quell questions surrounding the stability of the fragile coalition, that came about with the sole purpose of denying the BJP, that emerged as the single largest party in May, the power in Karnataka.
The return of the rebels and the support extended by an independent, taking the total strenght to 118 (excluding the speaker) in the 224 seats state assembly.
But the BJP continued its attacks. Amit Shah, the national president of the saffron party, slammed the Kumaraswamy government for failing the farming community.
He said that the government has only given ₹1,100 crore to its farmers despite promising a debt relief in excess of ₹41,000 crore.
Shah was in Sindhanur in Raichur district as part of his rallies in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu ahead of the parliamentary elections. Shah's visit, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Hubbali, about 450 kms from Bengaluru.
Political parties have been trying to capitalise on the dissent within the farming community reeling under the agrarian distress.
Also taking potshots at the grand alliance which the Congress is trying to lead, Shah said: “On Monday (Bahujan Samaj Party chief) Mayawati will be prime minister, on Tuesday (West Bengal chief minister) Mamata Bannerjee, on Wednesday [former prime minister (HD) Deve Gowda, on Thursday (Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.) Chandrababu Naidu, on Friday (Samajwadi Party chief) Akhilesh Yadav, on Saturday (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief) M.K.Stalin and on Sunday the government will go on leave."
He even said that Kumaraswamy owes his allegiance to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and not the people of the state.
“His loyalty is not to the farmers, tribals, youth, women, villages and cities of Karnataka but only to the Congress and doesn’t even feel embarrassed to call himself a clerk," Shah said.
The BJP president also asked the opposition to clarify its position on Ram Janmabhoomi issue, that is gaining significance ahead of the polls. “I want to tell all everybody that the BJP wants Ram Mandir to be built at that exact spot at the earliest. I want to ask them to clarify to the country if they want Ram Mandir or not," he said.