Bangalore, Oct. 2: Karnataka chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah, who is eyeing a second term in office, is set to launch his own version of the Prime Minister's Mann Ki Baat programme to talk about the state government's achievements since he took office in 2013.
A strident critic of Mann Ki Baat, Siddaramaiah has always taken potshots at Narendra Modi's pet contact programme by calling it "all mann ki baat and not kaam ki baat".
Perhaps driven by his own attack on Modi's broadcast, Siddaramaiah plans to name his version Kaam Ki Baat.
The Congress leader revealed his plans to reach out to people while talking to reporters in Chitradurga on Sunday. He said his weekly talk would be launched soon and insisted that he was not copying an idea from the Prime Minister. "I am going to talk about what I did since the people elected a Congress government almost four years ago," he said.
Sources in the government told The Telegraph the speech would be filmed from the chief minister's office and later broadcast to every taluk in the state. The recording could also be circulated via social media channels.
The state government has set aside Rs17 crore to equip all the 175 taluk offices to install television sets, said a source.
Assembly elections in Karnataka are due to be held by the end of April 2018 and the Congress high command had asked the state unit to publicise the achievements of the government.
A senior Congress leader told this newspaper the party was sure of victory if Siddaramaiah's popularity was anything to go by. "Seven months is quite some time for things to change. But we are sure of retaining most of the seats we won in 2013 and win a few more," the leader, who didn't want to be identified, said.
"Popularising our successful programmes would only do good in the long run. When Modi and his friends are taking credit for what we (the Congress) achieved, what's wrong in drumming up support for projects we implemented here," the leader added.
He said the government had fulfilled most of the 165 promises outlined in the party's election manifesto for 2013.
Siddaramaiah has launched pro-poor programmes like Indira Canteens that offer low-cost food for the poor and the working classes, free food grains and edible oil for the poor, free milk for newborns from poor families, the cash-less health scheme Rajiv Arogya Bhagya, education aid for the poor, and several initiatives for farmers and small-scale industries.
As a first step towards reaching out to the people, Siddaramaiah had in March this year launched a dedicated website with details of all the projects launched under his leadership and how they have been faring.
State BJP spokesperson S. Prakash took at a jibe at Siddaramaiah, preferring to call the upcoming programme Kaam Ki Baat.
"Why Hindi? Didn't he find a Kannada equivalent? He is the one who has been fighting for Kannada and speaking against Hindi," Prakash said.
The chief minister had openly supported pro-Kannada organisations demanding prominence to the local language and not Hindi.
Prakash even found the idea a "poor imitation" of Mann Ki Baat. "Siddaramaiah believes only in giving sops with an eye on the vote bank without spending on infrastructure or providing good governance," he said.