Karnataka Budget 2018: Siddaramaiah's last budget ahead of assembly polls

Karnataka Budget 2018: Siddaramaiah's last budget ahead of assembly polls

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah (Siddaramayya), who also holds the finance ministry, is set to present Karnataka State Budget 2018 on Friday, February 16. However, the schemes Siddaramaiah plans to introduce is only to increase his chances of winning in the upcoming state elections.

However, the government has failed to get the expected amount of revenues from the tax in the current financial year, which is going to be challenging for Siddaramaiah, who might find it hard to mobilize resources to implement the proposals made in the budget.

He is likely to take a vote on account for three months as election was scheduled to be held before May first week. He is also expected to allocate more funds to popular social schemes like "anna bhagya" free rice supply scheme and "ksheera bhagya" under which government school children are given milk five days a week, sources said. He told Siddaramaiah, who also holds the finance portfolio, that considering the Assembly elections are due in Karnataka in April-May this year, he can not present a full Budget.

The view that a populist budget necessarily translates into votes may, however, be exaggerated, analysts said.

Siddaramaiah and the Congress are hoping that its Rs8,165 crore farm loan waiver announced in June a year ago would help.

The term of the Congress-led government is going to end in May and this budget is expected to have a strong impact on the upcoming Assembly elections. However, similar announcements by other states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have only added to fiscal pressures and not necessarily translate into electoral success, analysts said. He is set to waive the loans of farmers.

Nevertheless, much of the capital expenditure is likely to go toward irrigation and improving rural infrastructure with a big share for Bengaluru, which accounts for 28 of the 224 seats, analysts said. Experts said Siddaramaiah will look to perform a balancing act to please all sections and communities to shed his longstanding Ahinda (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) image and project himself as a secular leader.

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