The Chief Minister spoke to Deccan Herald’s Asha Krishnaswamy, P M Raghunandan and Satish Shile. Some excerpts:
Within three weeks in office, you have handful of problems including fertiliser issue…
I consider it as challenge. This is ‘agniparikshe’ of my life. I am prepared to face it. Had the officers during the President’s Rule taken necessary measures to face the shortage of fertilisers, the state would not have faced this situation. I am doing my best. Within two days after coming to power, I met the Prime Minister. The Centre should be held responsible for shortage of fertilisers.
Pointing fingers at the Centre will not help farmers to overcome the problem.
The State has limited role in the fertiliser issue. It is the responsibility of the Centre to keep the stock and supply it. The manufacturers have stopped the production from last four to five months as the subsidy has been relapsed by the Centre.
Shikaripura and Holenarasipura taluks had sufficient fertiliser stock
No. Our government doesn’t differentiate among taluks in supplying fertilisers.
Don’t you think generous distribution of compensation also prompted more suicides?
We have not announced compensation to all to those committed suicide. I have given strict instruction to officers to release compensation only after verifying reasons for suicide and submit a detail report soon after suicide of any farmer.
The other day a farmer came to me with a letter saying that he has borrowed loans close to Rs 4 lakh. He said he will commit suicide if the state government does not come to his rescue. I asked the officers concerned to look into the matter and take appropriate steps. We have to encourage organic farming. How long can subsidy be extended for the manufacture of chemical fertiliser.
When you were the Opposition leader, you used to blame the government for farmers’ suicides.
At that time I had to discharge my duty as Opposition leader.
When will you give free power to farmers as assured by you?
We had promised free power subject to certain conditions. By the end of this year, additional 1,000 MW of power will be added to the grid. We are working out details of its implementation.
Your government is busy announcing populist schemes.
Bhagyalakshmi scheme was launched during the JD(S)-BJP coalition with a vision for the welfare of women. Now it has decided to effect modifications in the scheme with which a girl would get Rs 1 lakh by the time she attains the age of 18 years. Similarly, Sandhya Suraksha, pension scheme for the aged. Children will take care of their aged parents at least for the sake Rs 400 pension the parents get. These programmes are not for publicity but to bring change in life of common people.
How would you implement the recommendations of the Prof D M Nanjundappa’s report?
I have appealed to the Union finance minister to assist us financially. The Centre waived farmers’ loans close to Rs 70,000 crore. But the state is the least benefited. By then we had waived farm loans in cooperative banks by spending Rs 1,750 crore. The state government is demanding reimbursement of that amount. We will use the same for rural development.
When you were with the JD (S), you had hesitation to speak about urban development. Now you have no constraints, isn’t it?.
No. I am for Bangalore development because here a lot of revenue could be generated so that it can be spent elsewhere. I have appealed to the Centre for Rs 5,000 crore for the capital. The Centre should stop step-motherly treatment towards Karnataka. You will be surprised to know that basic price of petrol and diesel in the neighbouring states is lesser compared to price in the state. Earlier refinery was in Chennai. Even after having the refinery in Mangalore why should we pay higher price? I will not leave the issue until the Centre acts. I have already written to the Petroleum ministry. Within a few days I will take an all-party delegation to Delhi and fight for our dues.
You said you will follow Gujarat model of governance.
Atal Behari Vajapayee is my model. There is no doubt that the Gujarat has achieved growth in many fronts and none can dispute it. I have told officers to study good projects of other states and make efforts to take those which suit our requirements. Instead of planning new projects if something good has been done in other states we can follow. Whichever the model, my goal is growth.
You get the credit of bringing the BJP to power in South. What will be your role at the national level?
My immediate aim is to win 25 seats out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state and help L K Advani to become Prime Minister.
Do you have any strategy to end party’s dependence on five independents?
Strategy is not a strategy if it is told to the media. Whatever may be the strategy it is difficult to work out. We may have to wait till next polls.
Do you have any specific project for Bangalore like Vikasa Soudha to find a permanent place in people’s memory?
I don’t have any such ambition. My concern is only development of the state. Rural development, irrigation and power are main areas of concern. If people are provided with irrigation facility and 24-hour quality power supply they will definitely remember me forever. That is my dream.