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Siddaramaiah accuses FM Sitharaman of lying on drought relief fund to Karnataka

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Bengaluru:  Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday alleged that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lied when she said that the drought relief fund was not released because the Model Code of Conduct is in force.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Sitharaman sought to defend the Centre saying procedures to release funds had taken time by which time the MCC came into effect.

She said that after the Karnataka government submitted a memorandum in October and the inter-ministerial central team conducted a spot assessment, the release of drought relief had to go through a few procedures and that it had taken time.

According to the finance minister, the central authorities had written to the Election Commission on March 28 to get prior approval to convene a high-level committee, given that the Model Code of Conduct in force — and the EC’s approval is awaited with regard to the grant of drought relief.

Siddaramaiah said the state had submitted its memorandum for drought relief in December itself and rued the fact that despite Karnataka having the second highest tax collections in the country, the union government did not release the relief amount to the state.

“You please give a thought. Narendra Modi is Prime Minister for 10 years. Has he done anything for Bengaluru? He didn’t give you drinking water,” Siddaramaiah said, addressing the people during an election campaign for Congress’s Bengaluru North Lok Sabha candidate Professor M V Rajeev Gowda.

He pointed out that Rs 4.30 lakh crore goes to the Centre as tax from Karnataka.

“When we ask for more (share) from our tax money and relief amount for drought mitigation, they lie,” the chief minister said, addressing the people in Dasarahalli.

After listening to Sitharaman’s statement, Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda expressed his readiness for an open discussion and has even kept the stage ready for it, Siddaramaiah said.

“Shouldn’t Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attend it or not? She did not turn up. Yesterday she was here in Bengaluru. (She didn’t come) because she has lied, now she cannot tell the truth,” the chief minister added.

“She has spoken one more big lie. When we asked why no relief amount was given for drought relief, she said that the election code of conduct has come in the way…but we had submitted a memorandum for drought relief in September (2023).”

“We had sought the relief amount in December. Yet, not a single rupee was released (for drought relief in Karnataka). Isn’t it injustice to the people of Karnataka?” Siddaramaiah asked.

According to government officials, drought has been declared in 226 out of 236 taluks in the state. A central team had also visited Karnataka in September last year. Since then, three memoranda were submitted to the Centre, seeking the release of funds.

In February, Siddaramaiah, his cabinet colleagues, MPs and MLAs staged a demonstration in Delhi for the release of grants to the state for drought mitigation.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar too hit out at Sitharaman saying she had admitted that the Centre has done injustice to Karnataka.

“Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the announcement of general elections delayed drought relief funds to Karnataka. What is the connection between elections and drought relief? By saying this, she has admitted that drought relief is delayed and Centre has done injustice to Karnataka. She was accusing the state of not doing enough for drought relief,” Shivakumar said.

According to him, the Karnataka government submitted the drought relief appeal four months ago when there was no Model Code of Conduct.

“Now she is giving the pretext of code of conduct. People are aware of the injustice of the Centre. This justifies D K Suresh’s ‘Our tax, our right’ campaign, thanks to her,” he said in a statement.

Three-time MP Suresh is Shivakumar’s brother who is contesting for a fourth term from Bengaluru Rural Lok Sabha constituency.



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