BENGALURU: Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy heaved a sigh of relief as the Assembly passed his maiden budget on Thursday amid walkout by BJP members. Though he passed the first major challenge after facing resistance from former Chief minister Siddaramaiah over presenting a fresh full-fledged budget, the just concluded budget session has widened the trust deficit within the coalition instead of strengthening the bonding between Congress and JD(S).
The session which started after Kumaraswamy succeeded in getting a go ahead from AICC President Rahul Gandhi to present a fresh budget with a promise of retaining all the major welfare programmes announced in the previous Siddaramaiah government, the Congress members were in for a shock as the budget dealt a blow to Siddaramaiah's pet 'Anna Bhagya' programme by cutting the free rice quota per head from 7kg to 5kg. The hike in price of petrol and diesel exposed the lack of coordination between Congress and JD(S) in Budget making.
The Budget provided more grist for the sulking dissidents within Congress to mount a fresh attack on the Chief Minister and also their own party leaders for allowing JD(S) to weaken popular programmes of previous Congress government. Senior Congress leader HD Patil, MLA Sudhakar were scathing in their attack on the floor of the house. They went to the extent of even warning Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah against the consequences if the budget is not tweaked.
The attack forced Siddaramaiah to write to Kumaraswamy demanding a rollback on Anna Bhagya and fuel price hike. Though the Chief Minister partially relented by restoring the rice quota to 7kg, he stood firm on his proposal to hike petrol and diesel prices.
Kumaraswamy, who termed the budget historic with Rs 34,000cr farm loan waiver, gave a bigger push to boost the image of his JD(S) party by extending the farm loan waiver for fresh loans availed for the current crop season too. The budget session which started with the game of one upmaship ended on the same note with JD(S) on having the last laugh while Congress was again left with the compulsion of "swalpa adjust maadi" to ensure the survival of the coalition government at least till next Lok Sabha election.