Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday, February 11, challenged Union home minister Amit Shah, who is in the state, to participate in a public debate with him. Asserting that he could prove that the state’s treasury is not empty because of the guarantee schemes.
Shah arrived in Mysuru this morning and visited Chamundeshwari temple in the Chamundi Hills and attended a fair before participating in meetings with state BJP leaders to discuss preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Countering Shah’s alleged claims that the state government’s treasury is empty because of the guarantee schemes, Siddaramaiah said, “If this is Amit Shah’s firm opinion, he should participate in a public debate with me. I can prove that our treasury is not empty because of the guarantee schemes, and instead, there is an unfair distribution of taxes from the center to the state. This is also a challenge to Amit Shah.”
Accusing BJP leaders of trying to “destabilize” the guarantee schemes of his government, the chief minister questioned if they harboured hatred for the people of Karnataka and claimed that those opposing them would not get the blessings of Goddess Chamundeshwari and would not have the mercy of Lord Ram.
“If there are any objections to the guarantee schemes, BJP leaders should clearly state their opposition immediately and announce that all guarantee schemes will be discontinued in the states governed by the BJP. Why are BJP leaders trying to destabilize guarantee schemes in Karnataka? Do they harbour hatred for the people of Karnataka?” Siddaramaiah asked.
The chief minister also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “stealing” the state’s guarantee schemes, including the word ‘guarantee, and “advertising” them under the same name, despite allegedly opposing them.
In a statement released by his office, he called out the hypocrisy of BJP leaders opposing guarantee schemes in Karnataka on the one hand and promising to implement similar ones in states they govern on the other. “This shows the anti-poor stance and intellectual bankruptcy of that party (BJP),” he said.
Claiming that the BJP leaders’ real opposition is not the guarantee schemes, but the beneficiaries of these schemes—the poor—Siddaramaiah alleged that there is a history of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar opposing programs intended for the needy.
“Even when the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi called for ‘Garibi Hatao’ (to eradicate poverty), the same RSS-BJP opposed it. They have always opposed social justice programs, including land reforms and reservations. The poor should give a fitting reply to this,” he said.
To buttress his claims, Siddaramaiah alleged that the Central government, which had refused to provide rice for the state’s ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme (an additional 5 kg of free rice for every member of the BPL household), is now selling the same under the brand ‘Bharat’.
He also claimed that during his first term as chief minister, the BJP leaders had shown their “intolerance and jealousy” towards welfare programs introduced for the poor.
“The Central government, which had refused to provide rice at Rs 33 per kilo when we (the Karnataka government) asked (for free supply to the poor), is now selling it at Rs 29 per kilo. In summary, the BJP is intolerant towards the poor, farmers, women, and workers of Karnataka,” he added.
Opposition to the Kannada flag attempts at Hindi imposition, and the conspiracy to favour Amul over Nandini (the state’s milk brand) are all “achievements” of Amit Shah, the chief minister said.
“If the central government has to provide disaster relief, a high-level committee meeting chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah has to decide. Amit Shah, who is antagonistic towards Kannadigas, does not even call for such a meeting. Such people come to our state and lecture us,” Siddaramaiah said.
Questioning the use of offering ‘Naivedya‘ (offerings) to God without providing food to the poor, Siddaramaiah asked, “What is the benefit of building temples for God without providing homes to the poor? Those who oppose the guarantee schemes cannot have the mercy of Lord Ram. They cannot have the blessings of Mother Chamundeshwari,” he said.
“Reducing the hardship of the poor and wiping their tears is true devotion to God, as I understand. No matter how many times you chant the name of Ram while causing harm to the poor, it is futile,” the chief minister added.