Blackout in Karnataka assembly disrupts budget speech

Bengaluru, March 18 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday faced embarrassing moments in the state legislative assembly when a sudden power cut disrupted his budget presentation for 2016-17.

As the chief minister was reading out the budget proposals in Kannada, the well-lit air-conditioned house plunged into darkness, catching Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa and the 200-odd ruling and opposition lawmakers unaware.

In the absence of alternative power supply as back-up generators failed to activate in time, an agitated chief minister was forced to use a battery-operated torchlight to resume reading out the budget text, while the speaker and lawmakers stayed in the dark for five minutes.

The power interruption provoked opposition leader and former BJP chief minister Jagdish Shettar tell the chief minister how the state was reeling under power crisis due to widening demand-supply gap.

Another lawmaker was heard in the dark saying in Kannada the reason for the sudden blackout was due to the chief minister starting the over two-hour long budget speech at 11.30 a.m., considered to be a bad omen on a Friday when rahu kalam (inauspicious time) was underway from 10 a.m. to noon.

Following protest by opposition members, Power Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who was present in the house on the occasion, ordered suspension of Bescom (utility provider) engineer Ram Lingaiah for the blackout and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

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