Basavaraj Bommai: We plan to table anti-conversion bill during December session in Belagavi; : Karnataka CM | Bengaluru News – Times of India


CM Basavaraj Bommai says in the model of development he envisages for the state, people should be partners and not just beneficiaries. In a wide-ranging interview, he dismisses suggestions that he is perceived as an outsider for lack of an RSS background, says his relationship with his predecessor and mentor Yediyurappa, whom he referred to as “my leader”, remains deeply complementary and clarifies that his govt will go ahead with the anti-conversion bill, in effect in many states.
It has been a long journey for you, from a job at Tata Motors to Karnataka CM. Did your selection as chief minister in July come as a surprise?
I never had any aspirations for power. I never aspired to become a minister. Even my name for the chief minister’s post was not there till the last minute. After much deliberation and considerations on the political situation prevailing at the time, the central leadership of the party decided on my name on the last day. Perhaps, our Delhi leadership presumed that I was the best possible choice to succeed such a tall leader in the party like Yediyurappa, who had voluntarily resigned. I was the consensus choice to take everyone along within the party, including the senior leaders.
You were picked by the BJP leadership for the top job in the state despite not having an RSS background. Has it been difficult for the seniors in the party to accept the decision?
To call me an outsider is a misnomer. As soon as I joined BJP, I was welcomed and accepted wholeheartedly as a member of the party. The RSS accepts all people, within and outside… They go out of their way to accept and identify people with character and talent. In fact, I had attended Hindi prachar sabhas at an RSS shakha during my school days. I am very much an insider.
How would you describe your relationship with former CM BS Yediyurappa? Buzz is he wants to return to active politics.
A leader is a leader. It does not matter who becomes the chief minister. Yediyurappa is a very tall leader. He is a people’s leader. He is someone who cannot be compared to anyone. I have a very comfortable relationship with him and I am in sync with him. He is one of the few who recognised me very early. He is my mentor. I, as a CM, am comfortable with him being my leader as well. See, when (Virat) Kohli took over as captain of the team from MS Dhoni, on field there were several consultations with Dhoni as a senior player. That is the relationship between me and Yediyurappa.
The government’s decision to bring an anti-conversion law has triggered an uproar, especially from the Christian community. Will your government still go ahead with the plan?
Yes. We are already working on the draft of the anti-conversion law after studying legislations introduced by other states, including Uttar Pradesh. We are planning to table the bill in the Belagavi session of the legislature to be held in December.
The bitcoin scam has created a lot of noise in political circles. The opposition has accused the government of trying to protect powerful politicians, including those in the ruling party…
Where is the proof that the government is trying to shield people in the bitcoin scam? Let the opposition prove their allegations by providing evidence. What I know… two of their party members have been named in the case and their names figure in the annexures of the chargesheet. The government has no intention of shielding anyone. As soon as the scam came to the fore, the state police conducted its investigations and referred the case to the Enforcement Directorate and Interpol wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in March and April 2021 respectively. We referred the case to them as soon as we realised there is money laundering involved. The opposition claims are just hot air…
The state is on the path to economic recovery, and the spotlight is now on Bengaluru city. But something as basic as roads leaves much to be desired. When can we expect pothole-free roads in the tech capital?
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I travel on the same roads too and I understand the problem. Pothole-filling will be taken up on a war footing after the rains stop. I have discussed the matter with the officers concerned and given them targets to fill the potholes. I have directed BBMP to fix the roads and make them motorable. If the contractor fails to maintain the roads, the civic agency should take up work and make cuts in the payment to be made to the contractor. I am trying sincerely to ensure smooth roads and funds have been sanctioned for the same.
But fund crunch is a common complaint with BBMP?
There is no dearth of funds for pothole-filling. The issue with Bengaluru is that it is a city which has been growing without any planning, there is no planner. Development is a bit slow as 110 villages have been added to BBMP.
Traffic is a big issue as well and the pace of construction of Metro rail is painfully slow.
More than 5,000 new vehicles hit the city every day, especially four-wheelers. The city is growing, and public transport is a big issue. As for Bengaluru Metro, I am supervising the work. Phase 2, which was to be completed by 2025, will be completed in 2024 and I am monitoring it closely. I have also reviewed the suburban (rail) project and all the land will be handed over shortly. Work on the 12 high-density corridors will be completed in a year’s time. I am focusing on the central business district (CBD), all roads will be spruced up and will have seamless traffic signal movement. This will be one of the models which will be replicated in other parts of the city. Money has already been sanctioned, and work will begin in December.
What are your plans for skill development?
I’m planning to restart technical high schools. Engineering and digital services company Tata Technologies has signed a memorandum of agreement for 10 years with the state government to upgrade and modernise 150 government-owned Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) across Karnataka as part of the initiative to implement projects of high social impact. The total investment under this project is pegged at Rs 4,600 crore. This project will improve the availability of advanced skills required for smart manufacturing across all districts of the state and support in laying the necessary impetus for skill-led manufacturing and help the industry embrace 4.0 technologies.





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Sagar Biswas

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