A proposal to spend Rs 26 crore to mark the 60th anniversary of the Vidhana Soudha, which houses the Karnataka state legislature, has put presiding officers of the legislature at loggerheads with the Congress government in the state.
Shocked by the proposal, which includes holding a special session of the legislature on October 25 that will be attended by President Ram Nath Kovind, the state finance department, headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, has suggested reducing the cost to Rs 10 crore.
According to sources, the state government was shocked when it recently learnt that plans are afoot for the grand event despite the finance department not clearing the budget for the event. The state legislature secretariat is learnt to have begun preparations for the event after sending a proposal for an expenditure of Rs 26 crore after obtaining an initial clearance from the government for the event.
The proposed celebrations have come under scrutiny especially after reports emerged that among things budgeted were gifts in the form of gold biscuits valued at over Rs 50,000 for each of the 300 legislators and silver plates for the legislature staff.
But denying any such plan, Assembly Speaker K B Koliwad on Monday said, “There is no proposal to gift gold biscuits to legislators and silver plates to secretariat employees. We have sent a proposal to the government but these things are not part of it. I don’t know how this (report) has emerged,” Koliwad said.
He added that he did not modify the expenditure proposal for the celebrations, which is before the finance department. President Kovind has been invited to address a special joint session of the legislature on October 25, which will discuss, among other topics, the formation of the state.
As per plans, families of the first three chief ministers of Karnataka — K C Reddy, Kengal Hanumanthaiah and Kadidal Manjappa — will be honoured as part of the event. Two special documentaries on the Vidhana Soudha will also be screened.