Amit Shah's "Chargesheet" Against Siddaramaiah: NDTV Fact Check

BJP chief Amit Shah, during his several visits to Karnataka to campaign for the coming assembly elections, has levelled a series of allegations against the Chief Minister.

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Amit Shah has been campaigning riogorously for the coming assembly elections in Karnataka.

Bengaluru:  The high-stakes election in Karnataka, has, involved  a high-profile war of words, waged online and offline, between BJP President Amit Shah and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Mr Shah, during his several visits to campaign for the party, has levelled a series of allegations against the Chief Minister.

NDTV has fact-checked five of Mr Shah's main charges:

1. One claim often repeated by the BJP chief was that Karnataka received more funds under the NDA than under the UPA.  "Siddaramaiah was asking the BJP what it has done for Karnataka? I came to give accounts. Congress-led UPA granted Rs 88,583 crore under the 13th Finance Commission, while the NDA government, under the 14th Finance Commission, sanctioned Rs 2.19 lakh crore?" he said at a rally in Chitradurga in January.

Under the 13th Finance Commission (2010-2015, roughly corresponding to the tenure of UPA-2), the state received Rs 74,000 crore. During the 14th Finance Commission (2015-20, roughly matching the NDA's tenure) the state received Rs 2 lakh crore, numbers that broadly correspond to Mr Shah's claim.  

Mr Siddaramaiah hit back in a tweet, claiming that grants from the Finance Commission do not constitute special favours. He also cited tax growth, inflation and change in the formula of devolution as natural factors that would have led to the higher disbursal.  
 

2. Mr Shah has also raised the issue of farmer suicides. "While more than 3,500 farmers have committed suicide over the last four years, Siddaramaiah has termed it as a conspiracy. It's a pathetic and insensitive statement by the Chief Minister," Amit Shah said at a press conference in Mysuru in March.

Data available with National Crime Records Bureau, and responses to parliamentary questions as on March 20, 2018, show that 2,730 farmer suicides were reported in Karnataka between 2013 and 2016 -- the years Mr Siddaramaiah has been in power.

The data places the state second after Maharashtra in farmer suicides. The next three states are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. Among the top five states with highest farmer suicides, three are governed by the BJP.

"The latest figure on farmer suicides in Karnataka is 3,800 as of 2018. We have got the figures from the session of the Karnataka assembly held in Belgaum," said S Prakash from the BJP's Karnataka unit.

"We have had unprecedented drought that we have not seen in the last 100 years. We have Krishi Bhagya scheme, loan waiver,  zero per cent interest to farmer in loans many other schemes addressing farmers' issues," Congress spokesperson Dinesh Gundu Rao told NDTV.

3. Mr Shah has alleged that under the government led by Mr Siddaramaiah, the budget for scholarships for minorities saw a 4-time spike while there has been no increase in similar allocations for SCs and STs. "The height of Siddaramaiah's appeasement politics can be seen in his decision to sanction about Rs123 crore for the scholarship of SC & ST students against Rs 530 crore for the minorities. The budget for minorities has seen a four-time jump with no increase in budget for tribals," he said in a tweet.

However, data collated from Directorate of Minorities, Social Welfare Department and Tribal Welfare department shows there was a 44% increase in the budget of scholarships for SCs and STs between 2017-18 and 2018-19, from Rs 497 crore to Rs 719 crore.

The budget for minorities fell by 0.4% in the same year.

4. Mr Shah also targeted Mr Siddaramaiah on Mysuru, considered the Chief Minister's home turf. "Mysuru is just 140 km from the state capital, yet it has failed to attract any major investment. In five years, the Chief Minister did nothing to fulfil his promise to widen Mysuru-Bengaluru roadway. It was PM Modi who fulfilled this long standing demand with a new 8-lane road," he said in a tweet.

Data from Karnataka Udyog Mitra, a Government of Karnataka initiative to promote and facilitate investments, revealed that between 2013-17, Mysuru has attracted investments worth Rs 2,800 crore. Some of the big investors include Pepsico-- 590 crore, Kingwood Decor-- Rs 700 crore, and Micro Labs-- Rs 200 crore.

5. The case of the highway is more complex. Official records reviewed by NDTV (on the Press Information Bureau site, and from the PWD ministry in Karnataka) show the approval for the upgradation of Mysuru-Bengaluru state highway into a national highway was done under the UPA 2.

But it took the state government three years to acquire 80% of the land. The final sanction of funds happened in May 2017 under the Modi government.  

"The Mysore-Bangalore highway was done during the Congress regime when Mr SM Krishna was the chief minister. Today it has become a national highway. There are land acquisition issues which are going on, but it will be done," Gundu Rao said.  

"The land acquisition was delayed by the state government, now the foundation stone has been laid for the project. I am sure this project will be done in two years as promised by the central government. The contribution of the state government is very minimal in this," S Prakash from BJP told NDTV.

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