Bengaluru: Crediting the “team effort” of Congress leaders and workers for the party’s victory in Karnataka, Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar said the government is fully committed to fulfil the five guarantees and will implement the ‘Gruha Lakshmi’ scheme within a month to grant Rs 2,000 to every woman head of a family.
He termed the fight put up by the Congress as a “battle for survival” and said for him personally it was a “do-or-die battle”.
In an exclusive interview to ‘The Week’, he also said, “Of course, it is quite natural. Blood is thicker than water. But we have to (compromise). Sometimes politics is full of sharing and caring,” when asked whether the Vokkaliga community was upset when he was not made the chief minister.
On the Congress’ poll promises, he said, “We are going to implement it (the guarantees), come what may. We have a cabinet meeting on June 1. Arranging about Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 26,000 crore will not be a problem. We will work on arranging the remaining Rs 30,000 crore.” “Whatever we have promised, we will definitely deliver. We will come out with a plan within the first week of June. We are already speaking to the officials to work out a system,” he also said on the implementation of the ‘Gruha Lakshmi’ scheme.
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Shivakumar said the family has to decide to whom the money should go through direct benefit transfer – wife or mother, and should provide details of their bank accounts for which officers have to be delegated to visit every house.
Asked how long will it take to implement the scheme, he said, “We will implement it in a month. We will announce it and whatever delay, we will come out with a (solution).” He said some people have written to the government that they do not wish to receive the money, but will not bar anyone from taking it. “We do not want to bar anyone. We promised them. If they want, let them take it.” The Karnataka Congress chief said the “karyakartas” (party cadres) are the party’s roots and we should see that we strengthen them. “The voice of the cadre should be the voice of the leadership. This is what I look for. And, I have had 50 per cent success; 50 per cent is yet to be done. I will try to do my best.” He said the primary reason for the BJP’s defeat was that it could not deliver what it had promised. He said the stalwarts from the state who have ruled in the previous years had built Karnataka’s brand name and that was being dismantled by the BJP.
On him taking on the BJP despite cases against him, he said, “It is not only me; it is a team effort. No doubt I stood strongly. And I was ready to face everything. There was no choice. I had to fight this battle for survival. I knew that Karnataka would be the opening for the entire country. It was a do-or-die battle for me. Ultimately, I could do it (deliver Karnataka).” Shivakumar said Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra helped bring in enthusiasm in the party and people walked with him.
Asked whether he was happy with his current position, he said, “Whether I am happy or not is not important. I will be happy when we deliver a government with good governance, when we keep our promises, when we fulfil the aspirations of the people. Individual things will disappear. The confidence that the people of Karnataka have restored in us is very, very important. We should keep (it). I will be the happiest when all my promises have been delivered.” Shivakumar said he would not want to disclose what has been decided between the party high command and him and between Siddaramaiah and him on sharing of power.
“I will not disclose it. Ultimately, we have come to some understanding.” On Siddaramaiah becoming the chief minister within eight years of joining the Congress, he said, “he is definitely a lucky man”.
Asked whether the Congress will ban the Bajrang Dal, he said if anyone tries to disturb the peace through moral policing, they cannot as there is the law of the land. “There is the Constitution here. We have to protect the Constitution. Is it right for a police officer to wear saffron and take a photograph? The image of a police officer in Karnataka is high. But this time I think even the (former) chief minister encouraged it. We asked who was destroying peace.”
He also skirted a question on whether beef will come back to Karnataka, saying he does not want to get into that controversy. “Let me focus on development, our promises.”
On his vision for Karnataka in the next five years, the Karnataka Congress strongman said, “My vision is to bring back the glory that Karnataka had; to give a corruption-free, transparent government, a government with good governance. This is our vision. Bengaluru is a top priority. If Bengaluru gets proper attention, funds will come, and the same funds can be transferred to the rural areas. This is what we are looking at.” He also assured that the Congress government will investigate the previous government’s corruption and said, “We have already assured the people that we will investigate.” Asked whether the BJP will attempt Operation Lotus again, he said, “Let them recover from this defeat first. The entire double engine was here. What all they could do, they have done. Ultimately, my numbers never reduced, my confidence level never reduced. Our planning did not change.”