The one-year performance of BJP government in Karnataka boosted the confidence of Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. During this short span he not only secured full majority in the Assembly, but also won the heart of the people by taking many people-friendly initiatives. He has a vision to see Karnataka the most developed state of the country. To achieve this goal he even reached the doorsteps of opposition parties’ leaders seeking their support. Recently he, along with his cabinet colleagues and MPs from the state, had a meeting with Union Ministers in New Delhi to push the projects pending with the Centre. During this visit Organiser correspondent Deepak Kumar Rath interviewed Shri Yeddyurappa to know his agenda for next four years. Excerpts:-
You have completed one year in office. What have been the advantages and disadvantages?
We are now in a comfortable position in the Assembly. My colleagues in the government and I have been taking every step to make Karnataka the most developed state in the country. Towards that end we have been concentrating on building infrastructure, providing basic facilities and implementing people-friendly schemes. People of the state are with us. The total support that BJP received in the recent Lok Sabha elections by winning 19 seats is clear advantage for us. We had to build up the administration brick-by-brick. On a number of occasions, we were forced to take certain stern decisions. I am confident that we shall achieve our goal of total welfare of the people.
Your focus seems at developmental schemes and people-friendly measures. But is it sufficient to stand as number one state?
Our mantra is only development. I have instructed the officials to work hard towards achieving this goal. We shall not rest until we wipe out tears in the eyes of the last person of the society. It will be sufficient for me if I satisfy my people. That itself is a certificate for me.
Though the BJP performed well both in assembly as well as Lok Sabha elections, do you think the party will be able to make inroads into the opposition’s strongholds in the state?
We, through good governance and people-friendly policies, have registered our strong presence in Karnataka. The party that once had only two seats in the state assembly, increased its strength year-by-year. It had won 79 seats in 2004 assembly polls, which further increased to 110 in 2008 polls. The party also won five seats in recent assembly by-elections totaling our strength to 115 seats. People have seen our initiatives and achievements in this very short span. The progress made by the government has given a strong boost to the BJP. As a result we won 19 Lok Sabha seats in recent Lok Sabha elections.
It is true that both the Congress and the JD(S) still have strongholds in certain parts of the state. We shall certainly make inroads into them. The people-friendly schemes of our Government have reached nearly 1.15 crore people of the state. I am sure the coming days will certainly bring more popular support for BJP.
What are the key areas of development?
The key areas of development are agriculture, infrastructure, human resources and ensuring social justice for all. We have started number of schemes catering to the needs of the people of different walks of life.
In agriculture sector, there are many schemes like Support to Dry Land Farmers, Extending Loans to Farmers, Organising Foreign Tours for Farmers, Implementing Crop Insurance, Establishment of Research Centres, Fixing Minimum Support Price, Encouraging Organic Farming, Reviving Coffee Growers Association, Establishing Agriculture and Horticulture Universities, Extending Aid to the Mechanisation of Agriculture, Providing Seeds at Low Prices, Formation of Agricultural Mission, etc.
In the infrastructure sector, stress has been laid on development of Bengaluru. The number of roads are being widened; new bridges and fly-overs are being constructed. The Outer Ring Road is being facilitated with under-bridges, over-bridges and grade separators. Lakes and Parks are being developed. The first phase of the Metro Rail is in full swing. All necessary steps are being taken to ease the traffic congestion.
Education and employment are two other areas to which we have given utmost importance. All the funds received for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan are being fruitfully utilised. Basic infrastructure is being provided to all the schools. Higher education has received due attention. A scheme to extend financial help for pursuing higher education has been implemented. Six new universities are coming up. Separate universities for Sanskrit and Law are being established. The Knowledge Commission, first of its kind in the country, has been constituted under the chairmanship of renowned scientist Dr K Kasturirangan.
Similarly, with regard to social justice a number of schemes have been launched including Bhagyalakshmi Scheme under which a fixed amount by the Government will fetch the girl child rupees one lakh when she attains the age of 18 years. Bonds to the tune of Rs 119 crore have been issued. The pension amount for physically challenged has been doubled. Sandhya Suraksha scheme is for senior citizens and around 3.5 lakh people are drawing advantage from this scheme. The SC/ST students who score 60 per cent and above in SSLC exams are given cash incentives to help them pursuing higher education. Under Nemmadi scheme, the SC/ST unemployed youth are getting employment in Tele Centres. The STs are encouraged to get nursing training. Under Special Component Programme a sum of Rs. 54.00 crore for SCs and under the Tribal Sub Plan a sum of Rs. 21 crore is going to be utilised. The SC/ST/OBC students are getting pre-metric and post-metric hostel facility.
Karnataka is a fast growing state with increase in urban areas due to coming up of new IT and industrial hubs. Don’t you think it would have a long-term impact on the infrastructure requirement of the state?
Karnataka, particularly Bengaluru is called the Silicon Valley of India. We are ready to provide adequate facilities to the IT and BT industries to open their units in other cities of the state. These industries are providing job opportunities and earning valuable foreign exchange. We see the growth of cosmopolitan culture in Bengaluru. We are for the development of industries.
It is said one cannot win elections only by development agenda. How do you wish to win the heart of the people after completing five years in the office?
Development brings happiness in the lives of people. When they have access to education, economic and health benefits, they will definitely support the party and government. Dedicated public service is the only way by which we can win the hearts of the people.
Do you feel the ideology and core issues have today become hurdles in winning the elections or for good governance?
No. Certainly not.
Do you think there may be any conspiracy to destabilise your government after the formation of UPA Government at the Centre?
People mandate is with us and until people are with us no any such attempt will succeed.
Despite your invitation, the Union Ministers did not attend the first anniversary celebration of your government, although they were in the town. What do you say?
I met the Union Ministers from the State in Bengaluru and wished them best of luck and offered my regards. I further requested their support to work together in safeguarding the interest of the state. I also extended all my support and cooperation in this regard. I hope they will work for the welfare of the state.
You have complained against Centre’s biased approach towards Karnataka many times. Now what is your next step if the Centre does not cooperate you in developmental projects?
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and I are in good terms. After he assumed the office I wished him. There are Union Ministers representing our State. There are 19 MPs belonging to our party, from Karnataka. I am confident that we all will work together for welfare of the people of Karnataka.