- Despite corruption and nepotism charges, Siddaramaiah is still the Congress’s poster boy four years later
- The Chief Minister has been attacked for bad governance and his shortsightedness with regard to overall development
- Not paying heed to severe criticisms, the Kuruba leader continues to promote his Ahinda image
Except for his concerted efforts at consolidating the minority, backwards and Dalit votes, and ensuring a stable government over the last four years, experts consider that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has little to show in terms of performance, to his political bosses.
Despite his government attracting a series of corruption charges and the prevalent mood of anti-incumbency, Congress central leadership (which realises that its party has been reduced to smithereens by the BJP), has little choice but to tout Siddaramaiah as its chief ministerial candidate for the next term as well.
This, despite the simmering discontent within the party, with several leaders still finding it difficult to accept Siddaramaiah as their leader. He has been dubbed as an “autocrat” by his own party men, all of whom however have been effectively sidelined by the Kuruba leader and his coterie. Following this, two senior party men - S M Krishna and V Srinivas Prasad defected to the Congress. More leaders are threatening to quit the party.
Though the Siddaramaiah-led government completed four years in office on May 13, experts feel that it has still not gained sight on the big picture.
According to critics, Siddaramaiah has been more focused on populist measures and promoting his Ahinda image ever since he took over. Despite severe criticisms, he went ahead with the socio-economic census (caste census). Not only did he fail to contain corruption in his government, he also dismantled the Lokayukta, and replaced it with the Anti-Corruption Bureau, which he now lords over.
With less than a year to go for elections, the opposition BJP has begun to scream hoarse about the government’s failures. By releasing a charge sheet, the saffron party has been attacking the government for not addressing the drought situation and farmer suicides issue.
The government has also attracted criticisms galore for the deteriorating law and order situation, and for not fixing the crumbling infrastructure, especially in Bengaluru, which earned the ‘garbage city’ sobriquet. Problems like urban poverty, polluted lakes and cratered roads are still not being taken into account, despite the Congress being at the helm in the BBMP.
Though the government tried to implement infrastructure projects, they were spiked, following corruption charges.
Like his predecessors, Siddaramaiah too has attracted nepotism charges, while his government has not been bereft of sex scandals. He has also come under fire for not exhibiting financial prudence while presenting the State budgets. Further, Siddaramaiah’s reputation as a firebrand politician took a beating when the infamous Govindaraju diary allegedly exposed party leaders paying a retainer of crores of rupees to the high command.
Despite these misgivings, the Congress high command is left with no choice but to grudgingly accept the fact that it can’t overlook Siddaramaiah’s pluses.
He has singlehandedly ensured the party’s victory by consolidating the Ahinda votes in 2013. He also ensured victory during the recently concluded by-elections in Nanjangud and Gundlupet. The party’s central leadership is also acutely aware of its undoing elsewhere in the country. It is now seen making desperate attempts at renewing the party in the state. Karnataka is the only state in the South where the Congress still holds relevance.
It has appointed a new team to manage the party affairs in Karnataka, by ousting senior party leader Digvijay Singh. The new team led by AICC general secretary K C Venugopal has already received several complaints against the Chief Minister and the KPCC president G Parameshwara, who have never seen eye-to-eye.
Venugopal himself conceded that there was no coordination between the government and the party, which directly had a bearing on its effectiveness in promoting the government’s schemes and programmes to the people.
It will be interesting to see how Siddaramaiah will do damage control, both inside and outside the party, and whether or not he will be able to work his magic in ensuring that the Congress retains power during the next term as well.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 7:04 PM IST