Bangalore, July 4: The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition in Karnataka continued to grapple with issues to be included in the common minimum programme but agreed that the document would form the core of the state budget to be presented on July 19.
Today, chief minister Dharam Singh, deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah and senior leaders of the Congress and Janata Dal (S) agreed on the inclusion of a ban on online lottery, supply of rice at lower prices to the poor and extension of the mid-day meal scheme to high-school students. However, writing off the interest on farm loans and penal interest on defaulting farmers were put on hold.
The leaders would meet on July 10, after the Union budget is presented, to fine-tune the common minimum programme, which would be reflected in the state budget, Singh said here.
The chief minister said the leaders had decided to incorporate an appeal to the Centre to implement Article 371 of the Constitution for backward north Karnataka and confer special benefits to the region. The Congress’ poll promise of a dole of Rs 500 a month for educated, unemployed youth in rural areas would also find a place in the document, he said.
The chief minister, however, turned down the Dal (S) request for a joint panel to monitor the implementation of the common minimum programme.
Singh and Siddaramaiah attributed the delay in reaching a consensus to efforts by the coalition government to arrive at a pro-farmer and pro-poor programme. “There are no speed breakers or differences among us,” the chief minister said.
Siddaramaiah said the plea for a separate bench of the high court in north Karnataka would be discussed at the next meeting. “We are committed to social justice and will work for farmers and the poor,” he said.
A Congress leader said the chief minister was given the go-ahead for expanding the cabinet ahead of the budget session.