After a short recess, the Karnataka Legislature will meet again from Monday for the budget session, with the state budget to be presented by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on March 5. The legislature had recently met for the first session of the year from February 17 to 20, which saw Governor Vajubhai Vala addressing the joint sitting of the assembly and legislative council.
The session, scheduled to go on till March 31, might be a stormy one with opposition Congress and JD(S) likely to corner the BJP government on a host of issues. The opposition is like to rake up issues including comments by ruling party MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal against centenarian freedom fighter H S Doreswamy and also on alleged diversion of Rs 25,000 crore reserved for loan waiver. The session will see the government replying to the debate on the Governor's address to the joint sitting of the state legislature on February 17.
On March 3 and 4, a special discussion on the Constitution is likely to take place to commemorate 70 years since the adoption of the Constitution, on the initiative of the Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri. Highly-placed sources said the BJP is likely to push for a resolution in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at the end of the debate on the constitution.
This is expected to face stiff resistance from opposition parties. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, who also holds the Finance portfolio, will present the first budget of the BJP government after coming to power last year, on March 5. This will be the fifth budget to be presented by the 78-year old Lingayat strongman. The session is likely to witness the Congress demanding revoking assembly membership of Yatnal for his comments against Doreswamy calling him a "fake freedom fighter" and "Pakistani agent."
Congress leaders and MLAs on February 26 had protested in front of the Gandhi statue at Vidhana Soudha, seat of the secretariat here, during which Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah had even declared they will not allow the House to function. On his part, Yatnal is defiant and has made it clear there was no question of him withdrawing his statements against Doreswamy.
Several BJP legislators too have come out in defence of the Vijaya pura City MLA, questioning the Congress and the freedom fighter for their alleged comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Veer Savarkar. The JD(S) has decided to raise the farm loan waiver issue, with former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy recently accusing the BJP government of diverting Rs 25,000 crore reserved for the purpose. He had alleged the government has dropped the names of over a lakh farmers from the loan waiver scheme citing document issues and termed the move as nothing but "cheating" the ryots.
However, the Chief Minister termed such allegations as baseless and made it clear that all farmers who have submitted documents would be benefited. The opposition, especially Congress which has termed the government as ineffective and called Yediyurappa "weak", is expected to continue to corner it on the state's finances and "failure" in getting Karnataka's share of central funds on time despite the BJP being in power at the Centre.
They are likely to highlight reports about cut in central funds to the state and alleged shortfall in tax devolution to Karnataka during 15th Finance Commission. Anand Singh's appointment as Forest Minister despite several cases pending against him, including under the Karnataka Forest Act, is also likely to be raked up by the opposition.
Several key bills are likely to be tabled and taken up for consideration during the session. The government has already tabled bills like Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Bill and National Law School of India (Amendment) Bill seeking to reserve 25 percent of the seats at the premier law school for local students who have studied in the state for ten years.