Bengaluru: Unlike its neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, Karnataka has always been adopting a restrained approach towards providing freebies to people. Though the state is catching up with the trend, it has so far not taken any reckless step in the direction of doling out freebies.
The people of Karnataka had a taste of freebies in terms of free electricity for farmers. During the Congress regime under Chief Minister S. Bangarappa, free electricity to the farmers having borewells up to 10 HP was announced.
Due to this, lakhs of farmers benefited and extended the irrigation facilities to their dry land. This was considered revolutionary in the history of modern Karnataka and this was followed by many neighbouring states.
This was followed by a series of loan waivers for the farmers by successive governments – both Congress and BJP – to save them from the clutches of loan sharks.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has launched the Chief Minister’s Raitha Vidya Nidhi scheme, the first in the country, under which scholarships of Rs. 439.95 Crore have been distributed to 10.03 lakh children. The BJP government has extended the scheme to weavers, fishermen and children of yellow board taxi drivers.
Bommai has also announced that his government wants to empower Karnataka to make a contribution of at least 1 trillion dollars to realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambition to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy.
With the corona pandemic delivering a body blow to economic activity and tax collection for two years, the state government is focusing on education, health, women and infrastructure.
Amare Gouda Bayyapur, Congress MLA from Kustagi constituency, told IANS that there is no substance in arguments which say that supporting people is an economic burden. “The government is there for the people. Taking care of the welfare of people is the biggest responsibility of any government,” he said.
There might be failures, there might be misuse, but it can’t be dubbed a burden. The act of providing borewells, houses, land to people, distributing books through schools and providing food to students is necessary, he asserted.
He added the poor people have benefited immensely from the “Annabhagya” scheme (providing free rice to families) launched during the tenure of Siddaramaiah. Assured of food supply, the poor are able to focus on the education of their children.
Every scheme will have its merits and demerits. Many of the poor are able to construct houses because of assurance of food, Bayyapura said.
Political analyst Basavaraj Sulibhavi said that our’s is a welfare state not a police state. It is the duty of the government to cater to the needs of the people. If people are left to suffer this would be a matter of embarrassment for the government.
The usage of the word “freebie” is not tenable. Within the ambit of the word freebie there lie the necessities of civic society. Under democracy and the Constitution the government will have to ensure fulfilment of obligations, he added.
However, supporting the life and livelihood of people is different and luring people with freebies for pursuing vote politics is different. We have objections to that.
Karnataka has not indulged in vote bank politics through freebies. The State has maintained that balance and discretion so far.
By M. K. Ashoka