BANGALORE: In his maiden Budget presented on Wednesday with a revenue surplus of Rs 931 crore, Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda has sought to beat his predecessor-turned-critic B S Yeddyurappa in sops, size and surplus.
In his attempt to give something to everybody, he has taxed the rich but spared the aam aadmi. Yet, he has failed to announce bold, new initiatives, which is a reflection of the political uncertainty he is facing.
Given the fact that the Budget is not merely a jugglery of figures, but a political tool too in the year where elections — either to the Lok Sabha or Assembly — look a distinct possibility, Sadananda Gowda has failed to seize the opportunity bestowed upon by a quirk of history.
Taking the Budget forward from where Yeddyurappa had left at Rs 81,000 crore to a little over `1 lakh crore, is however, an achievement.
Announcing loans to farmers at zero per cent interest is one very bold attempt to score brownie points over his predecessor.
But the Chief Minister’s decision not to announce any major initiatives and leave his stamp — except for the Right to Services Act — is a sad reflection of the “willing-to-strike-but-afraid-to-wound” mindset. This approach is an indicator of the predicament he faces vis-a-vis his continuation as Chief Minister after the Budget session.
It is being said that Gowda could be replaced by Yeddyurappa, who staged a near coup and finally called it off on Tuesday night.
However, Gowda has scrupulously followed in the footsteps — or rather gone a step ahead — of Yeddyurappa by announcing largesse to mutts and religious institutions of almost all castes and sub-castes to the tune of Rs 48 crore. It was not unexpected, as he could not have antagonised any community. Realising the importance of safeguarding the interest of government employees, especially after having brought the Right to Services Act, Gowda announced the merger of DA and installments along with the earlier 22.5 per cent increase. This would mean an additional burden of Rs 4,450 crore annually.