H D Kumaraswamy’s first budget: Lion’s share for Bengaluru or the farmer?

Bengaluru: On Thursday when Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy rises to present his maiden state budget, the whole of Karnataka will be waiting to see how he perfects his balancing act – of doling out massive funds of around Rs 30,000 crores for the much touted farm loan waiver and yet ensure that people in urban centres like Bengaluru are not deprived of urgently needed facilities. A determined coalition partner Congresshas already wrested an assurance from him that the popular schemes launched by the previous government led by Siddaramaiah, will not be scrapped.

He also has the formidable task of keeping his voters happy with the Lok Sabha just 10 months away and his father Deve Gowda intent on winning more than the 2 Lok Sabha seats the JD(S) secured in 2014. A poor deal for the IT capital, in the grip of a garbage mafia and shoddy civic maintenance, would invite an instant backlash as Bengaluru generates 40 per cent of the state's revenue and has over a crore strong population.

Disappointing farmers by limiting the farm loan waiver to a few thousand crores, is sure to make them turn their backs on the coalition when elections are due. Sources said Siddaramaiah had cautioned Kumaraswamy on the Catch-22 situation he is likely to face if he goes ahead with the loan waiver remarking, "Very risky proposition, if you take that risk, then you will have to bear the consequences."   But can the CM afford to ignore rural areas, the traditional stronghold of the JD(S), keeping in mind the upcoming Lok Sabha polls? This troubling thought has left Congress leaders wondering if Bengaluru will get anything more than a pittance in the budget.  

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