Sworn in as Karnataka Chief Minister for the third time, BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa quickly grabbed the reins of administration by holding a one-man cabinet meeting with senior bureaucrats to fulfill his pre-poll promise of waiving farm loans of up to Rs one lakh from all banks on day one.
Yeddyurappa, who took charge amid protests by the Congress and JD (S) over the BJP’s lack of majority to form the government, was not, however, able to push through his promise of the loan waiver within 24 hours of coming to power. Senior bureaucrats sought time to work out the financial details that such a loan waiver would involve.
“I had promised to waive loans to the tune of Rs one lakh for farmers and weavers within 24 hours of coming to power.
I will waive the loans after the finance structure is worked out in one or two days,’’ Yeddyurappa told reporters.
Soon after he was sworn in by Governor Vajubhai Vala who gave him 15 days to prove majority, Yeddyurappa walked into the office of the Chief Minister in the Vidhana Soudha building.
After a brief informal meeting with Chief Secretary Ratna Prabha and a few close aides, he moved to the cabinet hall to hold a formal one-man cabinet meeting with the Chief Secretary and other senior bureaucrats from the finance and other departments.
A senior bureaucrat said the Chief Minister was told that officials would need a little time to work out the details of the financing structure of a farm loan waiver which has been only partially implemented by the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government.
Siddaramaiah waived farm loans upto Rs 50,000 obtained from co-operative banks but did not waive loans from nationalised banks, saying this would have serious implications on the state if it was not supported by the central government. The Congress had been urging the BJP government in Delhi to come to the rescue of farmers by waiving loans from nationalised banks as has been done in Maharashtra and Punjab. In the run-up to the state polls, Yeddyurappa announced that he would waive loans from all banks to the tune of Rs one lakh.
Yeddyurappa’s move to waive farm loans came on Wednesday even as the JD (S) stated that he should not be allowed to do so since the BJP government was yet to prove its majority in the newly constituted assembly. “How can some one who does not have a clear mandate waive off loans? The Governor must advise the government against taking any decisions until it proves its majority in the assembly,’’ JD (S) state president H D Kumaraswamy said.
The move by Yeddyurappa to waive loans soon after taking oath as CM is intended to also soften up MLAs from the Congress and JD (S) whom the BJP is trying to get to cross over to its side to prove its majority in the assembly, sources in the BJP said Thursday.
In other key administrative decisions, Yeddyurappa brought back his former Principal Secretary M Lakshminarayana as the new Additional Chief Secretary and handed charge of the state intelligence to Additional Director General of Police Amar Kumar Pandey. DIG Sandeep Patil was also appointed to the state intelligence unit.
He also brought in two new police officers to Bengaluru city in the form of D Devaraj, who served in key positions earlier when Yeddyurappa was the CM, and S Girish as deputy commissioners. The new administration also moved young police officer K Annamalai from the Chikamagaluru region to the Ramanagaram division represented by JD (S) leader Kumaraswamy.