In a recent development, Professor K E Radhakrishna, a member of the Congress manifesto drafting committee, has stated that the implementation of the party’s five guarantee schemes in Karnataka will not cost more than Rs 50,000 crore annually. The announcement comes amidst debates surrounding the feasibility and financial implications of these welfare measures. Party leaders argue that these initiatives should not be dismissed as “freebies” but rather seen as tools of empowerment. These guarantees resonated strongly with voters, particularly women, and played a significant role in the Congress’s decisive victory in the recent Assembly elections.
Congress’s Manifesto Guarantees
The Congress has outlined five key schemes in its manifesto, promising their implementation if voted into power:
- ‘Gruha Jyothi’: This scheme aims to provide 200 units of free electricity to every household in Karnataka.
- ‘Gruha Lakshmi’: Under this initiative, Rs 2,000 will be granted to every woman heading a family.
- ‘Anna Bhagya’: This program seeks to distribute 10 kg of rice to every member of below poverty line (BPL) families every month.
- ‘Yuva Nidhi’: The Congress plans to sanction a monthly allowance of Rs 3,000 to unemployed graduates and Rs 1,500 to unemployed diploma holders in the 18-25 age group for a period of two years.
- ‘Shakti’: This scheme aims to enable free bus travel for women across Karnataka.
Financial Implications and Counterarguments
Opponents, particularly from the BJP, have expressed concerns about the financial feasibility of implementing these guarantees. Some BJP leaders argue that the state will face financial bankruptcy if these measures are implemented and claim that the Congress will not fully honor its pre-poll promises. However, Professor Radhakrishna has clarified that the total cost of implementing these schemes will not exceed Rs 50,000 crore annually.
Financial Perspective and Empowerment
Professor Radhakrishna further explains that the total budget of the Karnataka government is around Rs three lakh crore, and a significant portion of this budget is allocated to sustained development, including employee salaries and empowerment programs. He emphasizes the interconnectedness of revenue and capital and highlights that if sufficient funds are not allocated to sustained development, there will be a negative impact on the overall budget. The professor also justifies the extension of the ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme, pointing out that it encourages the cultivation and production of rice and millets, thereby promoting self-sufficiency.
Empowering the Underprivileged
The Congress manifesto drafting committee aims to empower various sections of society through these guarantees. ‘Gruha Lakshmi’ and ‘Shakti’ specifically target below poverty line families and women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, respectively. The ‘Yuva Nidhi’ scheme aims to provide unemployment allowances to struggling graduates, acknowledging the current challenges faced by them. Additionally, the Congress plans to set up employment exchanges and generate employment opportunities through the establishment of solar parks and small solar clusters in each village.
In conclusion, the Congress’s five guarantee schemes in Karnataka have garnered attention and support from voters, particularly women. The estimated cost of implementing these initiatives is projected to be within Rs 50,000 crore annually, as stated by Professor Radhakrishna.
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