Bengaluru: In the middle of public alarm over a dozen deaths linked to potholes in Bengaluru and a sanitation crisis, a plan to gift gold biscuits to 300 Karnataka lawmakers has appalled many.
The gift has been proposed for the celebration of 60 years of the Karnataka state assembly or Vidhan Souda on October 25 and 26. The state assembly secretariat has sent a budget of nearly Rs 27 crores for the grand event to the Congress government, which says it was never looped in about the wildly exorbitant proposal.
The gold biscuits, each of 13 grams, are to cost Rs 3 crore, according to estimates. The state secretariat's proposal also includes silver plates as mementos for its 5,000 employees.
Assembly Speaker KB Koliwad, who is believed to have planned the celebration, denies the gold biscuit proposal. "We have sent a proposal...there are various things in it. If the finance department thinks it's expensive and rejects it then we will drop it. But we haven't sent a proposal to give gold biscuits", he said.
But sources in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's office confirmed to NDTV that such a proposal was indeed sent to the finance department and it has been rejected. "It has been rejected by finance department, Chief Minister will mostly reject it once he is back in town" said sources in the Chief Minister's Office.
At a cabinet meeting last week, some ministers raised objections to the diamond anniversary celebration budget, which, they said, had been sent for approval without consultation.
Leaders across parties question the timing and the need for such extravagance when the state has other priorities, including a massive clean-up of Bengaluru and the improvement of roads.
"This is nonsense of the highest order, people have nothing but contempt for what's happening in the assembly...and the council is saying members are not attending the session or taking up pro-people issues, " said BJP MLA Suresh Kumar.
"The speaker has no business to take such arbitrary decisions about public money" said Janata Dal Secular lawmaker Ramesh Babu.
Last week, the Speaker justified a plan to improve the attendance of lawmakers during assembly sessions by offering free lunch. In June, the Speaker had to adjourn the house several times as not even two dozen members were present in the House.