Bengaluru: In his first offensive against budget proposals presented by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, former chief minister Siddaramaiah spoke up against the hike in taxes on petrol and diesel as well as the cut in quantum of rice supplied under the flagship ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme, and demanded a review of both these proposals on the penultimate day of the budget session of legislature.
A day ahead of Mr Kumaraswamy’s reply to the debate on budget proposals in the Assembly on Thursday, Mr Siddaramaiah told partymen at an event organized to welcome the new KPCC president Mr Dinesh Gundurao that he has written to Mr Kumaraswamy to roll back the taxes on petrol and diesel as the move would affect the common man.
Besides, he also pointed out that the Congress was protesting against the BJP-led NDA government in New Delhi on the issue of spiralling prices of petrol and diesel. “At this juncture, your decision to hike petrol and diesel prices may affect the common man,” Mr Siddaramaiah, chairman of the Congress-JD(S) coordination committee, said in his letter, copies of which were released to the media.
Interestingly, the former CM’s demand for restoring the quantum of rice supplied to BPL families under ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme was supported by food and civil supplies minister B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan.
Expressing surprise over this decision, Mr Siddaramaiah said the subsidy amount which his government had earmarked was Rs 2,450 crores and by reducing the quantity of rice by two kg, Rs 600-700 crores could be saved.
This move, however, would increase the burden on the poor, he said. Earlier, several legislators demanded a roll back of taxes on petrol and diesel during a meeting of the Congress legislature party (CLP). They told Siddaramaiah that with general elections less than a year away, this increase in prices would prove detrimental to the party. They also resisted the proposed cut of two kg rice, announced in the budget by Mr Kumaraswamy. Nearly 50 per cent of Congress MLAs remained absent from the CLP meeting which proved the discontent among Congressmen had not vanished.