Karnataka Chief Minister
H.D. Kumaraswamy
spells out

his priorities in governance, the bounty of the rains this year and why he shed tears at a public meeting…

What are the top three things on your agenda for Karnataka?

Employment for the younger generation is my top priority. If you go through my Budget speech, I have identified more than seven districts in the northern part of the State. Gulbarga, Belagavi, Bidar, Koppal, Bellari, Chitradurga and Mysuru, Tumakuru and Hassan have been identified for specific manufacturing industries. For example, in Gulbarga we are planning to encourage solar panel units and sub-ancillary units, in Chitradurga LED bulbs. I want it to be like China in the way that they incentivised specific manufacturing units with certain districts. We are planning to invest more than Rs. 15,000-20,000 crore in five years to accomplish this. By this, we want to create employment of up to two lakh jobs.

The other agenda is to expedite irrigation projects. Farm loan waiver is not a permanent solution, rather it is a short-term relief measure. Our government is trying to work out measures to change the present-day system of crops and agriculture, by introducing a version of zero budget natural farming. This year itself, I have allocated some funds for this. We want the agriculture sector to respond to changing circumstances.

The rains have been plentiful in the State. That must have been a relief?

By God’s grace, this has been the happiest development this year. This time, even our brothers and sisters in Tamil Nadu will be happy. We are already prepared to fulfil the next month’s quota of water to be released. There will be absolutely no problem. Even Mettur dam, after a gap of 12-13 years, will be full. I have also read that the Tamil Nadu government has decided to release water for the
crop. It is a good sign.

Amid all this bounty from nature, why the tears last week?

Basically I’m an emotional man and a human being. I saw that after I took over the leadership in the State, the electronic media, specifically, opposing each and everything I do. They try to mislead the people over my policies. I don’t know why. Also why is a particular section of society, citizens of my State, among the people, is also opposing me.

Who are you referring to?

I don’t want to name the section of society. I’m not referring to the Opposition party here. It is the BJP’s duty to criticise and oppose me. I have no problem with that. But some sections of the common man, why are they seeing me with bad intention? In my mind, that pain is there. I was addressing my family members, my workers are my family members. It was not directed at the Congress.

You have been accused of favouring south Karnataka over north Karnataka. How do you respond?

Whoever is criticising me over my Budget, I want them to answer where is it that I have let down north Karnataka? Please show me an incident. It was under a peculiar situation that I presented the Budget. In February 2018, Siddaramaiah [former Chief Minister] presented a vote on account.

Our common minimum programme says that I have to continue all the schemes that the former Congress government had announced. I have taken that responsibility, in some cases allocating additional funds. I don’t know why these people are criticising me.

You have been at the receiving end of continuous comments from Mr. Siddaramaiah. How do you deal with that?

I think he is not criticising me but advising me based on his experience.

In many cases, unsolicited advice?

I welcome any good suggestion he makes.

Your equation with Congress president Rahul Gandhi is making local Congress men nervous.

I don’t want to misuse Rahul
. I don’t want to discuss any Congressman with him. He has given me a free hand, and in that I have been very lucky. There is no interference from the Congress high command and even local leaders are supportive.

What is the way forward for Opposition unity. How do you plan to address the issue of a national leadership?

As far as Karnataka’s political issue is concerned, there will be no problem about seat adjustment for the Lok Sabha polls. Even in Mysuru, Mandya, etc, it will be done in mutual understanding. Regarding the issue of a national leadership at the helm of Opposition unity, I would like to say that I am a small man and I request all the regional party leaders to please come together to bring in an alternative government in the country. It is their responsibility to protect the interest of the country, putting aside personal agendas.

What is your equation with Prime Minister Modi and why didn’t you post a fitness video when he tagged you?

I met the honourable Prime Minister twice. He welcomed me warmly, and gave me advice on governance issues, and I have taken it in a sporting way. As for the fitness video, I think he treats me as his brother or son and he advised me on my health. I’m grateful to him.

I think Siddaramaiah is not criticising me but advising me based on his experience

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