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Siddaramaiah’s first Cabinet meet gives ‘in-principle’ nod for Cong’s guarantees; estimates peg Rs 50,000 crore outgo

Siddaramaiah said the initial estimation of the government is that the implementation of the poll promises would cost the exchequer Rs 50,000 crore a year.

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Siddaramaiah, Karnataka, CM, Congress, Karnataka Government

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the newly sworn-in Karnataka Cabinet led by him, in its maiden meeting on Saturday, accorded ”in-principle” approval to implement the Congress party’s five guarantees, and initial estimates indicate that it would cost the exchequer Rs 50,000 crore annually.

The first Cabinet meeting was held immediately after Siddaramaiah was sworn in as Chief Minister, and D K Shivakumar as Deputy Chief Minister, along with eight MLAs as Ministers.

”It’s agreed upon. We will not go back (on the promises),” the Chief Minister said, adding, the assurances would be fulfilled notwithstanding any financial implications.

Siddaramaiah said the initial estimation of the government is that the implementation of the poll promises would cost the exchequer Rs 50,000 crore a year.

The assurances promised before the elections would ”most likely” be implemented after the next Cabinet meeting, he said, addressing a press conference here.

The party’s five poll guarantees are 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kilograms of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youth, Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (YuvaNidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti).

Political observers said the promise of guarantees found resonance with the people during the campaigning, particularly women, and played a key role in the stupendous victory of the Congress in the Assembly polls.

During the campaigning for the May 10 elections, Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi repeatedly assured the voters that these five guarantees would be approved in the first Cabinet meeting on the first day of coming to power.

Noting that the budget size of Karnataka is Rs 3.1 lakh crore, Siddaramaiah said: ”I don’t think it’s impossible for our government to raise Rs 50,000 crore a year (for the five guarantees)”.

”I am confident that without entrapping the state in debt and without pushing the state into financial bankruptcy, we will implement all the guarantee schemes,” he said. ”When we are paying Rs 56,000 crore (annually) as interest on our loan, can’t we spend Rs 50,000 crore for our people?” ”We have given approval in principle. I will come out with details in the next cabinet meeting. I have been instructed to issue orders. We will get details, discuss financial implications, and then we will do it for sure. Whatever the financial implications may be, we will fulfill these five guarantee schemes,” Siddaramaiah said.

When asked why these aspects were not considered before making the promises, Siddaramaiah asserted that his party would not go back on its word to the people.

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