Siddaramiah, DKS, Karnataka
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah with his deputy DK Shivakumar

Karnataka: CM calls meeting after 35 MLAs complain about severe financial crunch

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The financial constraints of implementing the five guarantee schemes have put the Karnataka government on a sticky wicket, with many Congress MLAs alleging that the government has failed to release the MLA Local Area Development Funds for their constituencies.

Around 35 MLAs have written a letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah airing their grievances against 20 Cabinet ministers not heeding their request. The letter also alleged that the ministers demanded bribes to do them the favour.

Taking a serious view of the MLA’s missives, Siddaramaiah is said to have decided to call a Legislative Party meeting on July 27.

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Led by MLA BR Patil, a former minister, around 30 MLAs have written a letter to the chief minister alleging that the district in-charge ministers are not responding to their plea to release grants for their constituencies. “The ministers are demanding money through the third parties and being MLAs, we are made to depend on third parties to do our work in our constituencies,” the MLAs alleged in their letter.

Requesting the chief minister to intervene, they said, “The ministers are giving preference to the officials who curry favour with them. They are not giving importance to our transfer recommendations. The officials are also not interested in our work. So, we are requesting you to intervene and solve the issue.”

Sources said that the government is facing financial constraints as it is trying to pool in funds to implement the five guarantee schemes and it might be the reason for the financial crunch.

Their allegations, regarding transfers of officials, provide credence to what former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has been alleging, sources said. Kumaraswamy has said that their letter has no value in the offices of the ministers and the government is involved in “transfer business”.

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Interestingly, the letter has been signed by MLAs of both Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar camps, including Patil, Basavaraja Rayareddy, Vijayananda Kashappanavar, Vinay Kulkarni and PM Narendra Swamy, among others.

Reacting to the development, KPCC President and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar said that the content in the letter is false.

“It’s just rumours. The government has been busy with the Assembly session and implementing the five guarantees. We are discussing how the guarantee schemes are reaching people and if there is corruption,” he added.

“We have called for a Legislative Party meeting to guide the MLAs to make the guarantees to reach the people. There are financial constraints as the guarantee schemes are to be implemented. So, we are holding back the grants this year. There are demands from MLAs from Rs 10 crore to Rs. 100 crore for various developmental works in their constituencies from my ministry. We are asking the new MLAs to concentrate on the constituencies as there are floods in some places and no rain in others,” he said.

“Obviously, the five guarantees have put the state government in a tight spot financially, if DKS is to be believed. Also, the allegations being levelled by Congress MLAs against ministers for “demanding money” is a sure way to corruption and this has to be resolved by the chief minister. Otherwise, it will create a problem in the coming days,” said a senior Congress Leader.

The development has caused huge embarrassment to Siddaramaiah.

To add to his woes, senior Congress leader and MLC BK Hariprasad had, in a purported video last week said that he knew how to make a chief minister and bring him down. Smelling a rat, Siddaramaiah and DKS had on Monday (July 24) alleged that Kumaraswamy and BJP conspired to topple the Congress government. Such rumblings of senior party leaders and the widespread disgruntlement among the MLAs make it evident that all is not well in the Congress-led Karnataka government.

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However, it is also being surmised that the MLAs by airing their unhappiness over the treatment being meted out to them, they are trying to bring the Siddaramaiah government around and nominate them to various corporations.

Siddaramaiah has decided to discuss the matter in the legislative meeting and then in the Cabinet meeting on July 27.

In yet another twist to the drama, MLA Patil on Tuesday (July 25) evening stated in Bengaluru that the letter was fake. Interestingly, senior leader Basavaraj Rayareddy said 35 MLAs had written a letter to the chief minister. He also said that he too signed the letter brought to him by Patil.

“We are not against the government or CM. I am close to CM. We have asked the CM to call for a Legislative Party meeting,” he said.

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