Siddaramaiah: Not enough funds for Swachh Bharat

Neelu Vyas

siddaramaiahIn an interview to Rajya Sabha TV, Karnataka Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah has attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his pet project Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Siddaramaiah has said that the project has lofty intentions but can only be a success if funds are released in time. He has alleged that Centre wasn’t releasing sufficient funds for the states. Siddaramaiah also took the opportunity to slam the NDA government for bringing in NITI Aayog and alleged that the central government lacked planning.

While talking about Karnataka politics, the Congress leader refuted the allegations that his policies were specifically made to appease the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Here are some excerpts:

You are member of the task force on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in Niti Ayog. Are you satisfied with the way things are moving forward?
Swachh Bharat is not a new concept; it has been taken from Nirmal Bharat. Sanitation requires a lot of funding at the state level, which we are not receiving. It’s a flagship programme of India and must be given more money.

Would you say Modi’s talk on cooperative federalism is mere lip service?
Modi is talking about corporate federalism because he brought in Niti Aayog in place of the Planning Commission. Niti Aayog shouldn’t have been brought in place of Planning Commission.

Did you opt out of the China trip to embarrass Prime Minister Modi?
Because of the gram panchayat elections, I could not go to China with the PM. No political colour can be attached to it.

You had said that you will not fight the next assembly election in Karnataka. But recently, on the floor of the house, you declared otherwise. Why this sudden u-turn?
BJP started yelling that they will make Karnataka Congress-free, therefore I said I’ll now make Karnataka BJP-free.

Would you concede that Andhra and Telangana are giving a tough fight to Karnataka (in terms of investors’ money)?
Why just Andhra or Telangana; every state is a tough competition. In the last 2 years, Karnataka has approved 362 industries. Our industrial policy, which is a progressive policy, is being copied by other states. As far as the IT industry is concerned, no state can compete with Karnataka.

What are the two biggest focus areas of your government?
The social sector has been our biggest focus area. We have been giving more thrust to the social sector by bringing in new schemes.

There is a charge against your government that you lay too much emphasis on the ‘Ahinda’ brand of politics, which focuses only on SCs and STs and alienates the upper castes?
Our government is committed to social justice. Our political opponents are making such allegations which are baseless with no truth. We are not alienating the upper class. We believe in inclusive growth and are committed to social justice. We are not alienating any community from the mainstream.

Your decision to have a caste census in Karnataka was also labelled as controversial. It again alienates the upper castes.
I have no authentic information on caste census. Experts say that such initiatives should have been taken long ago. In order to formulate government programmes and schemes, such kind of information is needed.

There is a perception that state party president and you are not on the same page on most issues?
The state president has never criticised the government and its policies. He has only given suggestions. There is perfect understanding between me and G Parameshwara. He has never demanded to be made the deputy CM. And I will always follow the decision which party high command takes.

TV channels have made report cards of your cabinet ministers which say that most of them are not performing?
All my colleagues are doing well and justifying their positions. Channels didn’t make these allegations, the opposition did.