By MATHIHALLI MADAN MOHAN
All the expectations raised a year ago, when Siddaramaiah wore the mantle of Chief Ministership in Karnataka have been sadly belied. His government continues to be a nonperforming one, before and after the crucial lok Sabha elections.
The Karnataka electorate, had brought in the Congress government in last year’s assembly election mainly because of failure of the BJP government to give a good governance.
Within one year, the Congress has proved that it is no way better than the BJP and as a matter of fact it is worse than the predecessor BJP government. This can be vouchsafed by the fact that in the just concluded loksabha elections, the BJP had established majority in more than 130 of the 224 assembly constituencies.
In effect this means that if the voting in the assembly elections were to be the basis, the Siddaramiah government would have been out of office by this time.
That within one year, the Congress government has gone out of reckoning as for as people confidence is concerned speaks poorly of the quality of leadership, he has provided.
He was expected to galvanise the working of the government and lead team which should have sent across a strong message across to the people that it is refreshingly different from the predecessor government.
For the quality of governance is more public perception than what a statistics oriented paid government advertisement in the newspapers. The impression is that Siddaramaih is hardly dynamic and his teams looks dull, uninspired and staid.
It does not mean that Siddaramaiah was inexperienced politically and administratively when he assumed the new responsibility. He had enough of both thanks to his long stint in politics both under Congress and Non Congress outfits and also in the government as Minister and Deputy Chief Minister.
It would be interesting here to draw the comparison of the performanance of three Chief Ministers, namely Narendra Modi of Gujarat, Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan, both from BJP and Siddaramaiah of Congress from Kanrataka.
Modi’s rise from Chief Minister to the Prime Minister and hard work that he did in electioneering is too recent to be recounted. The Modi government has not even completed one month in office. But the Prime Minister Modi has sent out through his actions on the improved quality of governance.
Narendra Modi was also new to nuance of the administering the Central government since it was his maiden stint. But he used his own experience of administering Gujarat for heralding a dawn of new era in administration. Known to the tough taking and a brusque politician, Modi has donned the new hat of conciliation and moderation. As a result he has been able to enlist more sympathisers than who had supported him in the polls. He has already sought to exercise a better control over the performance of the Ministers too and has done some plain speaking to the bureaucracy. When Modi is leading with his own example, his colleagues cannot afford to lax or wayward.
Take the case of Rajasthan, where BJP’s Vasundhara Raje is in office. After wresting power from Congress with a thumping majority, she has proved that her success was not any flash of pan but much more than that. She has been able to deliver all the Loksabha seats to BJP.
Among the innovative things that Mrs Raje has been able to do is to introduce the system of Ministers touring the rural areas for two days a month, during the peoples grievances are heard, taken note of. And the progress and performance is monitored in the headquarters with the help of new IT technology.
Siddararamaiah was also new to the office of the Chief Minister. Unlike Modi, who was stepping into the shoes of the Prime Minister for the first time and was testing the Central government waters for the first time, Siddaramaiah had longer stint as the Minister, Deputy Chief Minister before finding himself ensconced as the Chief Minister.
If a new comer like Modi could bring about a change in the working style of the Central government, it has not been possible for Siddaramaiah to introduce verve and shake off lethargy that is afflicting the political and administrative culture in his home state of Karnataka.
It is obvious that Modi had done lot of homework and has begun his innings as per blue print already prepared, Siddaramaiah has done nothing of that sort and has been simply drifting.
Modi has been active from the day one in his new charge and puts in, as per the reports available around eighteen hours of hard work per day and went on to show the mettle too in the entirely new field of Foreign Affairs there are no reports to this effect from Siddaramaiah’s side,
Toning up the party and the government has been one of his bugbears. Even more than one year in office, Siddaramaiah has been found wanting in bringing about coordination of working between the party and government, as a result of which both he and the PCC chief Dr Parameshwara appear to be working at cross purposes. The much touted formation of the coordination committee under the chairmanship of Digvijay Singh has hardly been able to mend the matters.
Under Siddaramaih, the administrative discipline, which was a casualty during previous dispensation, has touched a further low. The image of the ministers does not inspire confidence. Most of them look haggard, in discharging responsibilities. They appear to follow their leader in their collective failure to refurbish the image of the government.
The manner in which the case of Dr Ravindranath, ADGP who was alleged to have clicked picture of girls in a hotel, was handled, with the electronic channels going to town highlighting the internal bickering within the top echelons of the police, the smugness displayed by the Director General of Police, the silence of the Home Minister and the Chief Minister, and a group of ministers belonging to the scheduled castes, openly coming out in support of the ADGP, who happens to be their kinsman, did not redound to the credit of the government.
The failure on the part of the government to handle garbage problem which has reached epic proportion, has been the classic case of smugness of the Siddaramaiah government. The government continues to be non-chalant despite being rapped by the Karnataka High Court couple of months. The government has done preciously little barring passing on the buck to BBMP, which is paying the price for financial profligacy.
The failure on the part of the partymen in Karnataka headed by Siddaramaiah and Dr. Parameshwara, to deliver goods, as promised has cost the party heavily. Had Karnataka risen to the expectations, the party at the national level would have been saved from the ignominy of depending on the discretion of the Speaker to get the designation of the Leader of the Opposition post for its parliamentary party leader, The CLP is just short the number, which Karnataka party men failed to deliver for being automatically recognized as the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha.
The fact that Congress could improve over its 2009 performance and raked an additional 12 lakh voters over its 2013 assembly performance, in Karnataka can be pyrrhic satisfaction, since major national battle has been lost, since it could not check the BJP’s game of overtaking it.
The worst part is that neither Siddaramaiah nor Parameshwara has any sense of remorse over the fact that they had let down the party very badly at a time when it needed badly and have expressed any intention directly or otherwise that they would like to atone for it.
As a matter of fact, both of them have sought to put the blame on the chairman of the coordination committee, Digvijay Singh. This has been stated by none other than Singh himself, with a tinge of surprise. And both of them are busy in pursuing their own agenda despite the loss of face for the party at the state and national level.
Meanwhile Dr Parameshwaar has won his first round in his campaign for a cabinet berth that too with rank of Deputy Chief Minister by getting party ticket for the election to the Karnataka Legislative Council. But it is doubtful whether there would be any qualitative performance in the working of the government because of the attitudinal difference between the two.
(Posted on June 17 , 2014 @ 7:00am)
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