VIJAYAPURA/BAGALKOT: In his first interview since he took charge as Chief Minister, BS Yediyurappa reveals how the floods that have hit Karnataka came in the way of his cabinet formation. Also, how he plans to raise funds — Rs 6,000 crore — to meet the expenses. Just the way he did the last time he was CM.
This time, he’s going in with the mantra of ‘good governance’, and hopes people will remember this tenure in those terms. Excerpts from BSY’s conversation with TNIE’s Mahesh M Gouder in Bagalkot, where he was touring flooded areas.
Two weeks after he took over as Chief Minister, BS Yediyurappa is all set to induct ministers into his cabinet next week.
“I will induct ministers into the cabinet next week without fail,” he told TNIE in an exclusive interview.
The worst-ever flooding that has caused havoc in 17 of the 30 districts was one of the factors that delayed the process of inducting ministers as earlier this week, the CM had to cut short his New Delhi visit to take stock of worsening flood situation in North Karnataka.
“If there was no flood in the state, the cabinet would have been expanded by now,” Yediyurappa said.
Next week, he will be visiting New Delhi to meet party president and Union Minister Amit Shah and get the names short-listed for the cabinet approved. Yediyurappa, who is currently busy monitoring the rescue and flood relief operations, refused to join issue with the opposition which has criticised him for the delay in inducting ministers.
On the composition of his cabinet, the CM said all castes and regions will be taken into consideration and will be given equal representation.
The delay in ministry expansion has not deterred the CM, who has hit the ground running from day one. For now, his priority is tackling the flood situation and raising adequate funds to take up rehabilitation works. That apart, in the coming days, the government will also deposit Rs 2,000 in the bank accounts of eligible farmers as first instalment of the Rs 4,000 additional financial assistance under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna.
“In the next six months, the entire state will talk about the performance of our government. I’ve promised the people good governance, I will do it,” he asserted.
What is your assessment of the flood situation?
Incessant rains in the Western Ghats and Maharashtra led to a huge inflow to Krishna river and many villages in the Krishna basin are marooned. People are being rescued using helicopters and boats. The rescue operation will go on till everyone in flood-hit areas and even livestock is declared safe in the flood-hit areas. Over 1,000 villages in 16 out of 30 districts are hit by floods, but the situation is under control.
You have just done an aerial survey and toured some flood-hit areas. What’s your assessment of the damage caused by the spate?
Flood water has entered hundreds of villages, lakhs of hectares of standing crops have been destroyed, agricultural lands in Belagavi, Bagalkot, Vijayapura, Raichur and other districts have gone underwater. In many districts, roads have been washed away, bridges have collapsed, and huge infrastructure damage has been reported from the urban areas.
Currently, the loss is estimated to be around Rs 6,000 crore. A more detailed assessment will be done by the departments concerned once the situation returns to normalcy.
How do you plan to mobilise funds for flood relief, in addition to the Rs 4,000 financial assistance you announced under the PM Kisan Samman Yojana?
I’ll knock the doors of the Central Government. I’ll have to try to get as many grants as possible by convincing them about the current scenario in the state—the real extent of the damage. I’ll also divert funds from a few departments to meet the financial need. In 2009, when I was the Chief Minister, we had faced a similar situation and succeeded in mobilising funds from the private sector, the mutts and other sources — around Rs 1,200 crore. Infosys Foundation chairman Sudha Murthy has already given Rs 10 crore to the Chief Minister Relief Fund now.
I urge all industrialists, businessmen and people from other walks of life to contribute as much as possible to the CM Relief Fund so that rehabilitation work in the flood-hit areas can be undertaken. Next week, the government will, parallelly, give the first instalment of Rs 2,000 to farmers under PM Kisan Saman Yojana.
The Opposition here accuses you of not doing enough when people are suffering due to floods. How do you respond?
Officers, including the Chief Secretary, are working around the clock without even going back to their homes for days on end. We’re responding to the people’s plight in the manner it should be done. I’m not interested in responding to criticism against me or my government. Plus, right now, I really don’t have the time to bother about the statements of the opposition.
You’ve said you would talk to the Maharashtra CM to resolve inter-state river water issues, festering for long now. How do you plan to go about?
I’m 100 per cent confident of solving all issues pertaining to water management and our disputes with Maharashtra. In following days, our focus will be on the issues that need to be addressed on a priority basis. I’ll make a proper agreement to sort out the pending issues between the two states.
Yours is a one-man government now. When do you think you can induct ministers and form the cabinet?
If there was no flood in the state, the cabinet would have expanded by this time. However, I’ll be going to New Delhi soon to meet the party president, Union Minister Amit Shah, to get the approval for the tentative cabinet list. The cabinet will be expanded next week, without fail.
Will the Yediyurappa Cabinet have Deputy CMs?
It will be decided by the party president, Union Minister Amit Shah. In the next few days, you will get complete details about my cabinet. All the castes and regions will be taken into consideration and will be given an equal share in the cabinet.
How different will the Yediyurappa government of this time be compared to the previous tenure?
Just wait and see! It is just two weeks since we formed the government. In the next six months, the entire state will talk about the performance of our government. I’ve promised the people good governance, I will do it.