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POLITICS (44)

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Is something the matter with the other mining baron from Bellary? Yes, going by Infrastructure minister Santosh Lad’s strange new taste for austerity

 

Santosh Lad, Infrastructure and Information Minster, recently paid a surprise visit to KIMS Hospital in Bangalore and lambasted the medical officers for lack of cleanliness. This week he went to Raichur.

 

Lad is an ardent devotee of saint Raghavendra Swamy. He used to frequent the Mantralaya temple, just across the border, by helicopter when he was an MLA. This time, too, circulars went out to Raichur district officials that he would be there for an inspection and meeting.

 

The administration got busy arranging security, and made grand preparations to welcome him. To their surprise, Lad arrived in a government car on Wednesday evening, ahead of the meeting, and rushed to the Raghavendra Swamy temple. After puja, he returned to Bangalore the same evening without informing anybody. District officials kept waiting for him all day on Thursday.

 

Lad is a mining baron from Sandur in Bellary. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, not to speak of helicopters, and doesn’t care much for government vehicles. So why did he used a government vehicle to visit the temple? No one knows, but some are saying he had no interest in holding a meeting, and so quietly slipped away without drawing too much attention.


Will Siddaramaiah rice and shine?

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As soon as Siddaramaiah took oath as chief minister, he announced rice at Re 1 a kilo—and a monthly ration of 30 kg—for each family below the poverty line.

 

He had paid no thought to where he would source the rice, and how he would pay for it. Reality began to sink in soon. He put off the date of distribution.

 

That was enough for the opposition and the media to taunt him. Asked if he would start distribution at least from July 1, he prodded Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao into action.

 

About 78 lakh families hold BPL cards and the government needs 2.45 lakh tons of rice every month for this scheme. The annual cost of distributing rice is Rs 1,200 crore. Experts advised him the total cost could be brought down if

EMPTY HAND Siddaramaiah’s rice dole is based on questionable economics

he introduced the unit system (10 kg for a family with one person, 20 for a family of two, and 30 kg for a family of three or more).

 

The centre provides 1.42 lakh tons, and Karnataka faces a shortage of about 1.03 lakh tons. Some 75,000 tons are available at state government warehouses. Siddaramaiah needed only 25,000 tons for July. He is buying this at Rs 27 a kg from Chhattisgarh. By selling at Re 1, the government loses Rs 26 on every kilo it doles out to BPL cardholders.

 

If all goes as planned, Siddaramaiah will launch his rice distribution scheme on July 10. This will help the very poor. The government will also earn a good name. But how will Siddaramaiah weed out the 58 lakh bogus cards, and curb the middlemen?


Yeddyurappa hanging

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Some ministers in the BJP, under the leadership of DB Chandre Gowda, have taken a request to state party president Prahlad Joshi. They want Yeddyurappa, who split from the BJP and formed the KJP, back in the fold.

 

Sadananda Gowda, Prabhakar Kore, Murugesh Nirani, Basavaraj Bommai, Umesh Katti, Somanna, and Madhusudan of the BJP are working behind the scenes to bring him back.

 

But Joshi still hasn’t taken up this issue with the national leaders. Yeddyurappa remains anathema to prominent leaders like Ananth Kumar, Jagadish Shettar, KS Eshwarappa and Prahlad Joshi himself. They fear they will be sidelined if Yeduyurappa is back.

 

So it’s a stalemate for Yeddyurappa, even though the ascendance of Narendra Modi, with whom he enjoys a good rapport, is good news.


Minister for Bangalore

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Bangalore is represented by 28 MLAs and 198 corporators. It is a hub for the real estate, ITBT and travel businesses, and generates more revenue than the rest of the state put together. Ministers in charge of the city often enjoy as much power as the chief minister, if not more.

 

Yeduyurappa had given sweeping powers to ministers R Ashok and Katta Subramanya Naidu, and each reigned over half of Bangalore.

 

But Katta ended up in jail on corruption charges. Ashok then enjoyed control over all of Bangalore. Currently, the senior-most among Congress MLAs from Bangalore, Ramalinga Reddy, holds the transport minster’s position. He is also the minister in charge of Bangalore. Dinesh Gundu Rao, KJ George and Krishna Byregowda, who also covet the position, are forced to remain content with just their ministerships.

Ramalinga Reddy

When Talk spoke to Dinesh Gundu Rao, he said, “Ramalinga Reddy is senior to all of us. He is the most eligible to hold the position. We support him. Our goal is the development of Bangalore. We don’t have any hard feelings”.

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The CM is quietly trying to cut grants for boards and academies governing books and culture, and seeking the resignation of chiefs appointed by the previous regime

Anaemic Advani, anxious Ananth

Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 12:12

advani

The fall of mentor LK Advani has cast Ananth Kumar, once a highly influential BJP leader from the state, into the deep end of the pool

2014 fever

Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:58

The fever of 2014 national elections is already being felt in the state. Much like a company giving sales targets to its managers, the Congress High Command is said to have given Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah a target of winning 20 parliamentary seats or more in the 2014 elections.

 

The Congress has for long been accused of using the CBI probe against BS Yeddyurappa to keep him by their side as a weapon against the BJP. The recent assembly elections is proof enough. On the other hand, it has announced populist schemes like the ‘One kg rice for Re 1’ scheme to draw in the masses.

 

The BJP, for its part, with Narendra Modi helming its election campaign, is trying to get Yeddyurappa back into the party fold. Parallel to this, they are also considering a BJP-KJP alliance much like the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra. The JD(S) has kept track of these developments, and is contemplating an alliance of its own, with the BSR Congress. Going by the national scenario, don’t be surprised if regional parties like the JD(S) will make all the difference in the 2014 polls.

Too much advice

Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:32

siddaramaya

Siddaramaiah

Chief minister Siddaramaiah is getting stronger by the day. Although he denied tickets to party stalwarts like DK Shivakumar, Ramesh Kumar, Roshan Baig, Basavaraj Rayareddy and Anil Lad.

yediruppa

That’s the talk in political circles, but party patriarch LK Advani could prove a major hurdle

Skeletons in the cabinet

Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:54

mine

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah made news for his ‘clean ministry’, but some of his choices—as with a liquor contractor who got the excise portfolio—are nothing short of scandalous

A ministry outsourced

Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:46

ministers

Old faithfuls in the Congress are sulking about plum posts going to those who strayed in from the enemy camp

It’s 1994 once more for BJP

Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:17

bjp

With just 40 seats, the party goes back to its position of two decades ago. It has suffered not just an ideological rejection in its stronghold of Dakshina Kannada, but also lost the support of key interest groups headed by the Reddy brothers and Yeddyurappa in other regions

Some good men finish first

Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:06

farmer

The surprise victory of clean candidates augurs well, and reassures citizens that not all is lost

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