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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 25 June 2021 3.49 AM IST

We don’t print notes to give Covid aid: Karnataka minister

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SHIVAMOGGA: Senior Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa on Monday stoked controversy, saying the government does “not own a printing machine” to mint currency notes and hand out compensation to thousands of working-class people hit hard by Covid-induced lockdown. The minister said, “Do we print notes (to extend doles)?” at his hometown Shivamogga in reply to state opposition leaders’ demand that the BJP government must consider giving Rs 10,000 compensation to each working-class family.

Eshwarappa is the second minister in the BJP government to make insensitive remarks about the plight of the people in less than two weeks. On April 28, state food and civil supplies minister Umesh V Katti had told a farmer-activist enquiring about foodgrain allotment to “go die”, following it up by saying that it is a “good time for farmers to die”.

The audio clip of the conversation on phone had gone viral, causing major embarrassment to the state government. Oppn leaders should keep quiet for 14 days, says KSE On opposition leaders’ criticism of the way in which the government is handling the Covid crisis, Eshwarappa said, “If they keep mum, then the lockdown will be a success (and allow positive cases to fall).”

He said former CMs Siddaramaiah, HD Kumaraswamy and Congress state unit president DK Shivakumar should “keep their mouth shut for 14 days so that we can tide over the crisis”. “It is not the time to criticise the government since the pandemic has attacked India after 100 years… Nobody had foreseen it,” he said. Eshwarappa’s statement drew sharp reactions from Congress and JD(S), while the BJP offered a calibrated view on the issue. JD(S) leader HK Kumaraswamy said the statement is no different from that of Katti’s. “While Katti was crass, Eshwarappa is much more polished by stating it does not matter whether people die in the state.”

Congress working president Saleem Ahmed said, “It is Eshwarappa’s decision whether he wants to print additional notes or take it from the state exchequer. However, as a minister and leader of the ruling party, it is the responsibility and dharma of the government to help people from poor background.” BJP state general secretary N Ravi Kumar said, “Opposition parties have been demanding a financial relief package, but that does not mean the government is in a position to provide it. The government will look into the needs of the people and will take an informed decision.”

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TAGS: KARNATAKA MINISTER, PRINT NOTES, COVID AID, K S ESWARAPPA, CONTROVERSY
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