Karnataka legislature set for stormy winter session from Monday

Karnataka: The Karnataka legislature is set for a stormy 10-day winter session from Monday at Belagavi in the state’s northwest district, where it meets every year in December, ostensibly to address issues concerning the region.

“This is the legislature’s second session after the JD-S-Congress coalition government was formed on May 23 following a hung verdict in the May 12 Assembly elections and fall of the 3-day BJP government on May 19 for want of majority,” an official told IANS on Sunday.

Belagavi in the former Bombay Province is 500km from state capital Bengaluru.

“Besides pending bills, the session will discuss major issues, including remunerative price for sugarcane growers, farm loan waiver, drought in 17 districts across the state and drinking water supply from Mahadayi river to the four drought-prone northern districts,” said the official.

The first day, however, is unlikely to see any disruption, as both the legislative Houses (Assembly and Council) will pay obituaries to three prominent state leaders and former Union ministers who passed away in November.

The deceased are Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Bengaluru South Ananth Kumar on November 12, former Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting and Kannada super star M.H. Ambareesh on November 24 and former Railways Minister and former Congress Lok Sabha MP from Bengaluru North Jaffer Sharief on November 25.

“As the legislature is meeting after the July budget session in Bengaluru, the legislature will also pay tributes to former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, who passed away on August 16 in New Delhi,” the official hinted.

Though Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy formally began giving debt-free certificates to some farmers at Doddaballapur near Bengaluru on Saturday, the opposition BJP has vowed to expose the six-month-old coalition government for failing to waive loans of all farmers who borrowed from the cooperative and state-run banks since 2016.

“We will move a special adjournment motion in the Assembly on Tuesday against failure of the state government in fulfilling its promise of waiving farm loans till date though Kumaraswamy announced it in July,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s state unit spokesman told IANS here.

The BJP will also seek the state government’s response to the demand of the sugarcane farmers for payment of arrears by the sugar mill owners and fair price for this year’s crop as fixed by the Central government (Rs 2,650 per tonne) and an additional Rs 250 for harvesting and transporting it to the nearby mills for crushing.

“In spite of assurances by Kumaraswamy and state Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar to resolve the issues by November 5, hundreds of farmers have resumed agitation near the state legislative building, as the state government has let them down again. There is also no sign of loan waiver for lakhs of farmers, who are unable to take fresh credit from the banks for the rabi crop as their debts have not been waived yet,” BJP leader and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told reporters here.

Many Congress legislators are also miffed at the inordinate delay in expanding the state cabinet and appointing chairmen for about 30 state-run boards and corporations, as six ministerial berths are still vacant.