A week after the presentation of the State Budget, the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has written to his successor, H.D. Kumaraswamy, seeking the withdrawal of the budgetary proposal to hike taxes on fuel. He has also sought restoration of 7 kg of rice per person under the Anna Bhagya scheme for below the poverty line (BPL) families.

Both the issues were hotly debated during the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting held here on Wednesday.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said he had written to Mr. Kumaraswamy requesting him to withdraw the proposed hike in taxes on petrol and diesel and restore the quantity of rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme.

‘Against national stance’

At a programme where Dinesh Gundu Rao took charge as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president, the former Chief Minister said the proposed hike on taxes on petrol and diesel would go against the party’s national stance, though fuel prices in Karnataka were the lowest among southern States.

To mobilise resources to write off the ₹34,000 crore farm loans taken from cooperative and nationalised banks, Mr. Kumaraswamy, in his budget, proposed to increase the tax on petrol from 30% to 32% and diesel from 19% to 21%. Tax on liquor has been proposed to increase by 4% and that on consumption of electricity from 6% to 9%. Sources said, at the CLP meeting, several legislators demanded immediate withdrawal of the proposal to hike the taxes on fuel. With Lok Sabha elections less than a year away, the legislators reportedly told the CLP chairman, Mr. Siddaramaiah, that the hike, if effected, would not help the party in the elections.

On legislators’ complaint about the proposal to reduce the quantum of rice being supplied under the PDS for BPL households by 2 kg, Mr. Siddaramaiah said he had written to the Chief Minister requesting him not to reduce the quantum of rice since “the objective of the Anna Bhagya scheme is to make Karnataka free from hunger”.

In the legislature, some JD(S) MLAs, including A.T. Ramaswamy, had also sought restoration of the quantum of rice under the scheme.

Legislators from north Karnataka, at the CLP meeting, spoke on the alleged neglect of their region in the budget. Senior leader and former Minister H.K. Patil in a letter to the Chief Minister had expressed his disappointment over the alleged discrimination against the region.

Sources said several legislators asked Mr. Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara to hold talks with the JD(S) to get the post of the Legislative Council Chairman. Pro tem Chairman Basavaraj Horatti continues to hold the office since the commencement of the legislature session on July 2.

Congress failed to counter BJP propaganda: Siddaramaiah

Mr. Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said the politics of Hindutva and “misinformation campaign” by the BJP, coupled with the failure of the Congress to counter them, had caused the party’s defeat in the 2018 Legislative Assembly elections.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said his government had done good work in the last five years but failed to get the majority owing to false information provided to voters by the BJP at the booth level. He said Congress leaders did not make sincere efforts to counter the BJP propaganda.

The Modi government at the Centre had not delivered on many promises made five years ago. The Congress should win at least 20 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the State by effectively countering the BJP’s campaign, Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

Outgoing KPCC president G. Parameshwara handed over the party president’s charge to Mr. Rao by symbolically handing over the party’s flag. MLA and former Minister Eshwar B. Khandre took charge as working president of the KPCC. All top leader of the party attended the programme.

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