The Congress in Karnataka today protested at the Maurya Circle in Bengaluru against what they said was inadequate flood relief work being carried out by the BJP government in the state and the ongoing wait for relief from the centre. The opposition has been targeting the ruling party on the issue of there being no cabinet for over three weeks after BS Yediyurappa was sworn in as chief minister.
Karnataka has been dealing with huge amounts of rain and subsequent flooding that led to the death of over 80 people and the displacement of lakhs.
Former chief minister Siddaramaiah was at the protest and he told mediapersons, "The Congress decided to hold a symbolic protest to draw the attention of the government of India and the government of Karnataka regarding the heavy floods the state is facing today. And also drought in some of the districts. 22 districts and 102 talukas... More than 1,000 villages are submerged and more than 80 people have lost their lives. Thousands of cattle have died. There is a crop loss more than 20 lakh acres... More than one lakh crore rupees loss is there from this flood and drought in seven districts and 42 taluks."
Mr Siddaramaiah was critical of the delay in release of funds from the centre to help with flood relief. He said, "Floods started from August 7. Till today, government of India has not released anything."
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not taken an aerial survey. Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman conducted surveys but did not announce money for relief work. Karnataka has 25 MPs from BJP in parliament. What are they doing? They should have gone and demanded and put pressure on the PM to release money," Mr Siddaramaiah said.
"Earlier, as prime minister, Manmohan Singh took an aerial survey and released funds on the spot. I want a special session of Karnataka Assembly," he added.
Mr Siddaramaiah said the centre should immediately release funds and that he wanted an all-party delegation from the state to go and convince the centre of the seriousness of the situation. He said, "It (the floods) should have been declared a national calamity. They should immediately release 5,000 crores. But nothing has been done. Yediyurappa has failed to convince the government. So the party decided to stage this symbolic dharna. Every time, Yediyurappa has to go to Delhi and come back... for forming of ministry and allocation of portfolios - in that he took over 20 days. There was no cabinet in Karnataka. Only Yediyurappa was there... Looks like he is scared of Amit Shah and Modi. That is why I requested Yediyurappa to take all party delegation to Modi."
The cabinet was finally expanded last week with portfolios following after another six days. One of the first tasks allotted to the new ministers by the chief minister was to fan out and oversee flood relief operations.
The BJP came to power in the state after the Congress-Janata Dal Coalition lost a trust vote in July.
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