The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka appears to have crafted its Rs. 1.02 lakh crore budget, presented by Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Wednesday, with an eye on the next Assembly elections. Several proposals in the budget are directed at building a support base among new political constituencies.
Of course, being the last full-fledged budget of the BJP government, which is scheduled to face Assembly elections in May 2013, the budget was expected to be a please-all one. It has indeed lived up to these expectations.
This is most evident in the allocations for different communities. The one proposal that stands out is the allocation of Rs. 1,000 crore, the highest so far, to the backward communities.
Battered by infighting and a series of corruption scams involving its leaders,
The BJP, which is at present heavily dependent on the support of the dominant community of Lingayats, would like to make inroads into the support base of the backward classes spread across the State.
There is a conscious attempt to address Dalit concerns by increasing allocations for their welfare and waiving their agricultural loans.
The increase in salaries of the 5.50 lakh government employees is also an ambitious move as the party is keen to build goodwill among its employees.
Even the huge allocation of Rs. 5,500 crore for the development of Bangalore city is seen as an attempt to consolidate the party's position in the city as 27 Assembly constituencies of the total 224 in the State fall within the city.
Offering interest-free short-term crop loans to farmers is an ambitious scheme that the party can use productively in their election campaign.
Sources in the BJP said that the intention of the party was to make maximum political gains for the party through the budget.
There is a strategy involved in wooing certain communities and sections that can help change our political fortunes, a BJP source said.