HD Kumaraswamy's New Test In Karnataka Alliance - Farm Loan Waivers

While campaigning for the May 12 election, both Mr Kumaraswamy's party and the Congress had promised the big-ticket step of waiving farm loans.

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HD Kumaraswamy said he would announce the details in a budget he would present on July 5.


Bengaluru: 

The four-week-old coalition government in Karnataka has not disappointed critics who have predicted a troubled marriage between the Janata Dal Secular and Congress. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is finding it difficult to take even the first step in delivering on his mandate.

While campaigning for the May 12 election, both Mr Kumaraswamy's party and the Congress had promised the big-ticket step of waiving farm loans.

Mr Kumaraswamy has now said he would announce the details in a budget he would present on July 5. This has apparently rattled the man who handled finance earlier - Congress's former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Siddaramaiah, who now heads the coalition coordination committee, has been caught hitting out at the Chief Minister in two videos apparently recorded at a naturopathy retreat where he spent some days earlier this month.

In one video, he is seen speaking skeptically about the Kumaraswamy government completing its five-year term. "They (government) will remain until parliament elections are over, after that, what all developments will happen (we will have to see)," Siddaramaiah added.
 

kumaraswamy jds

Mr Siddaramaiah's ties with the JDS, the party he quit in 2006 to join the Congress, has been strained.

The second video recording, also shown on a local channel, has him questioning the need for a fresh budget since the JDS is in a coalition with the Congress, which presented the last one.

"When the common minimum programme of the two parties has not yet been prepared, why prepare for a new budget," he is heard asking.

Siddaramaiah also reportedly referred to his party colleague and Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara as having said it was common for a new government to have a new budget.

The relationship between Siddaramaiah and Mr Parameshwara, the state Congress chief, has long been strained.

So has Mr Siddaramaiah's ties with the JDS, the party he quit in 2006 to join the Congress.

The former Chief Minister is in an awkward space; an active politician who no longer occupies centrestage after the party he led could not come back to power on its own. The role of heading the coordination committee may not be compensation enough.

Reports suggest he is the go-to man for Congress leaders upset with the terms of the coalition.

Mr Kumaraswamy has indirectly acknowledged the dissatisfaction of some Congress leaders. While talking to officials of nationalised and cooperative banks on Monday he said, "I am the kind of person who likes for everyone to cooperate and work together as a family. Even officers are asking how long this government will last. Some are saying, do the new budget after the parliamentary elections, not now. It is not important how long I stay. It is important what I can do for the people in that time."

For weeks after Mr Kumaraswamy's oath ceremony, the allies couldn't agree on the distribution of ministries and fought for the finance portfolio until Congress president Rahul Gandhi stepped in. Mr Kumaraswamy kept the portfolio and now fully intends to present a new budget, especially before the 2019 national polls.

At the first meeting of the coordination committee earlier this month, the partners had reportedly agreed that the flagship programmes of the previous Congress government would continue - like rice at Rs one rupee a kg under the Anna Bhagya scheme and the low-cost Indira Canteens.



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