Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday asserted that his government will implement the five poll 'guarantees' promised ahead of the assembly polls.
He said that officials have shared their inputs on financial implications, and the cabinet will meet on June 2 to decide on the implementation.
The cabinet meeting was earlier scheduled for June 1. In view of the implementation of guarantees, the Chief Minister today held a meeting with all the Ministers and senior officials of the concerned departments at Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state secretariat and legislature.
"We had given five guarantees to the people, regarding these five guarantees concerned officials and finance department officials have made a presentation together. All the Ministers have seen the presentation, it has all the details -- proposals and financial implications of the implementation," Siddaramaiah said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the CM said, "we have not discussed in today's meeting, discussion and decision will be on the day after. On Friday at 11 AM, I have convened the cabinet meeting, where we will discuss, and after that our decision will be made known to you." "But, the government has taken a call to implement all the five guarantees. It is a guarantee that we will implement the guarantees," he added.
Earlier, Karnataka transport minister Ramalinga Reddy clarified that the bus travel is going to be free for all women in Karnataka, without any conditions.
Recently, The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) staff and workers federation wrote a letter to CM Siddaramaiah, asking him to implement the scheme soon as few women passengers are already refusing to pay the ticket fare while boarding the buses. The staff also asked the chief minister to estimate the cost of scheme and compensate KSRTC in advance.
There are also some reports about incidents of people not willing to pay electricity bills and women not wanting to pay bus charges. There are also discussions over whether mother-in-law or daughter-in-law should get financial assistance under the 'Gruha Lakshmi' scheme.
The Congress had promised to implement the ‘guarantees’ - 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) (YuvaNidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti), on the very first day of assuming power in the state.
There is mounting pressure on the new government from opposition parties and various sections of people from across the state, to fulfill its five guarantees as promised ahead of polls.
Asked whether the five guarantees will be implemented at once or one after the other, the CM said, "All those things have not been decided yet, it will be discussed and decided in the cabinet."
To a query about BJP's criticism, he said, "let BJP (central govt) fulfill whatever they had promised, before questioning us. We will implement what we had promised, we had implemented earlier too, we will do it even now."
Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar told media that officials shared inputs in today's meeting and also gave four to five options regarding the implementation of the guarantees, and what would be the financial impact.
"We are committed to implementing the guarantees, no doubts on that. Following officials sharing their opinion and inputs, some of us (Ministers) have also shared our view, and we have asked officials to rework and present it before the cabinet. As they sought time, there is no cabinet tomorrow, it has been postponed by a day -- to Friday. We will discuss and let you know."
Appealing to people to avoid any kind of "gossip" on this matter, Shivakumar said the state government is aware of the promises made by the Congress ahead of elections and also the financial implications. "We are discussing everything."
Reiterating that the government will decide at the cabinet meeting on Friday, he said, "How to do, what to do, we are thinking about it. You (media) may be in a hurry, we are not. Our speed is towards implementing systematically, the state has to be saved and we have to keep up our promise."
Asked whether there will be conditions attached to guarantees, the Deputy CM said, "Whether there are conditions or not - is not important, there should be a system for everything. Like in the case of free bus service for women -- who, where, within Karnataka or outside, there should be some calculations."
Earlier in the day, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Priyank Kharge said criteria and frameworks are being decided for implementation of guarantees. He said the criterion has to be fixed to implement the guarantees, as tax-payers money is involved.
Opposition BJP and JD(S) have accused the Congress of trying to "cheat" voters after coming to power by trying to attach conditions or criterion to the guarantees for their implementation, which were not mentioned ahead of polls.
After having accorded in-principal approval for the guarantees in the first cabinet meeting on May 20, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had said they would "most likely" be implemented after the next Cabinet meeting. He had also said that initial estimates indicate it would cost the exchequer Rs 50,000 crore annually.
(With inputs from PTI)