Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday rejected in the Assembly the Opposition demand for waiving farmers’ loans and rolling back budgetary hike in taxes on petrol and diesel while asserting that his government had maintained fiscal discipline.LIVE England vs New Zealand 1st Semi-Final T20, ICC World T20 2016, March 30, 2016Winding up the debate on the state budget for 2016-17, he said, “We have not committed any financial indiscipline. I’m making it very very clear. It is a very balanced budget. Our financial position is good and we are not in debt trap.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Siddaramaiah, who holds the Finance portfolio and had presented his 11th budget in his political career on March 18, defended it as ‘forward looking’, ‘pro-development’ and ‘growth oriented’ and claimed the Congress would return to power in the 2018 Assembly polls.He said he had already announced a package for farmers and it was not possible to write off the loans now.Unhappy with the Chief Minister’s reply, BJP members walked out of the House as he did not respond positively to their demand for a farm loan waiver in view of the consecutive drought affecting most parts of Karnataka, which had also reported spike in farmers suicides last year.Noting that Karnataka had not raised the tax on diesel and petrol in the middle of the year, Siddaramaiah rejected their demand for the withdrawal of the proposal to hike tax rate on petrol from 26 per cent to 30 per cent and diesel from 16.65 per cent to 19 per cent.The Chief Minister’s attack on Centre for not transferring the benefits of fall in crude oil prices led to heated arguments between BJP and Congress members.”I have become the Chief Minister by the blessings of the people and as per wishes of my party high command. With the blessings of the people, we will once again come and sit here after 2018 assembly elections,” he said.Reacting to this, Opposition leader Jagadish Shettar said the Chief Minister was dreaming about coming back to power, but the reality is “Siddaramaiah will be the last Congress Chief Minister, write it on the wall.”Siddaramaiah hit back, saying the Opposition leaders were chasing an “illusion” and had not understood the reality after their performance in the Taluk and Zilla Panchayat elections.On criticism that he has forgotten his past after becoming Chief Minister, Siddarmaiah said he has never forgotten the path walked by him to achieve success. Social justice and inclusive growth were foundations of his government, he said.Siddaramaiah recalled his college days when he had to stay in a hostel room in Mysuru where had to cook food and wash dishes and said some of his government’s schemes were drawn from his experience those days.The Chief Minister also listed out various achievements of his government, including its ‘online APMC’ model being implemented across the country, the nation’s first startup policy, Mysuru being named cleanest city for the second time.”Looking at last three years, I feel satisfied. We have been able to fulfil most of the promises made to the people of the state,” he said.Siddaramaiah rejected the opposition’s criticism of cut in allocations to various departments and putting tax burdens on middle class. He said in spite of worst drought, more severe than the ones in 1972 and 1985, the state had been able to reach the tax estimates and the criticism about government’s inability to collect taxes effectively is “far from truth”.”We have in no way stumbled in our financial management,” he asserted.Stating that Karnataka’s contribution to India’s GDP has increased from 5.5 to 7 per cent, the Chief Minister said the state’s GSDP has declined due to acute drought in the state from 7.8 in 2014-15 to 6.2 per cent in 2015-16.”I expect it to increase next year, while praying for good rains and good crops,” he said.Hitting out at BJP for repeatedly accusing the government of borrowing high loans, Siddaramaih said the loan “we have taken is within the limit of 25 per cent of GSDP as mentioned in the norms. It is about 24.57 per cent.”

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Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah rejects Opposition demand for waiver of farm loans