The Congress leaders believe the JDS might hijack the Budget with a stamp of its own if they don’t speak up now.
The CM has been holding pre-budget meetings with heads of departments without involving deputy CM G Parameshwar, who represents the Congress in the coalition, a senior Congress leader pointed out.
Parameshwar was called only for discussions related to his portfolios, and not for other Budget-related discussions.
“That, in all likelihood, this is going to be a JDS Budget, and that is what we are uncomfortable with,” the Congress leader, not wanting to be identified, said.
On whether the Budget presentation will happen on July 5, as announced, only the CM has been making statements confirming the decision. No one from the Congress wants to comment. The Congress leaders, however, say they don’t want to create any hurdles to Budget presentation. By the tone of their observation, the Congress does not want to rock the coalition boat, but wants its partner JDS to accommodate the Congress views.
It is the JDS manifesto and its leader Kumaraswamy who made the mother-of-all promises, ahead of the May 12 polls, assuring farmers of waiving their agriculture loans if voted to power. The Congress, confident of winning on its own, stayed away from making tall promises, but got sucked into it later as JDS holds the finance portfolio. The Congress, clearly, is caught between a rock and a hard place: if it allows JDS a free rein on waiving farm loans, it might walk away with all the credit. If it opposes, it will risk losing votes of farmers.
“If we don’t put our foot down, the JDS will start growing at the expense of the Congress,” said another Congress leader.
Viewed from this context, the leaked video footage of Siddaramaiah chatting with a few MLAs is well-timed, and directed at the JDS with an implicit message to the AICC. In the video, the former CM lavishes praise on Rahul, criticises meetings by some disgruntled Congress MLAs and talks against another Budget, and says he has not come across any farmer in his village who has ended his life due to debts.
Even Siddaramaiah’s critics say the former CM, who heads the 5-member coordination panel, would not have spoken on the Budget if the CM had involved Deputy CM in Budget meetings.