It's a high-stakes political battle for Siddaramaiah

Last Updated 18 August 2015, 19:49 IST

Having failed in his efforts to complete the process of re-structuring the Bengaluru municipal area as mandated by the party, the entire onus of ensuring its victory in the BBMP polls appears to be now on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Knowing fully well that the stakes are high for him, Siddaramaiah is not only leading the party campaign in the nooks and corners of the city, but has also deployed almost all his ministerial colleagues and several party MLAs and MLCs on election duty. As many as 28 senior ministers are camping in Bengaluru for the last fortnight, campaigning and overseeing the party’s electioneering in the Assembly constituencies assigned to them. Siddaramaiah was personally involved in the process of candidates selection also, though the party had constituted committees to shortlist candidates.

After the party released its manifesto, the chief minister came out with his ‘vision document’ to explain what he intends to do for the capital.

The chief minister and his ministerial colleagues have so completely involved themselves in the elections that they have not spared time to visit drought-hit areas of the State. The government recently declared 114 of the total 176 taluks as drought-hit due to the failure of the monsoon. Distressed farmers continue to commit suicide across the State.

Though almost all the State party leaders are involved in the campaign, many are said to be unhappy with the party’s preparations for the elections. They feel that the government should have made adequate preparations and created a feel-good factor before the polls. Had the government not bungled on the issue of re-structuring Bengaluru, the party’s prospects would have been brighter, insiders said.

One of the senior ministers from Bengaluru said that the re-structuring proposal was sent to the chief minister’s office (CMO) in early 2014, but the CMO sat on it. The government began acting on it a year later and suffered repeated setbacks. The Governor initially refused to promulgate the ordinance on re-structuring BBMP. Later, the bill was placed before the legislature. It is now pending before the President for his assent. Finally, the Supreme Court directed the government to hold elections to the BBMP.

The sources said that the outcome of the elections will be considered an indicator to the performance of the Congress government that came to power two years and three months ago. Its main agenda has been the welfare of Ahinda (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and dalits) communities. He has rolled out a slew of highly-subsidised Bhagya schemes to project himself as an Ahinda leader. It is feared that his detractors might continue to brand him anti-development, if the party fails to win the polls.

The elections are important for the chief minister to consolidate his position in the party, especially in the wake of the demand for revamping the ministry.

If the Congress wins the polls, the chief minister will have the final say on whether to revamp the council of ministers or just fill vacant berths. A victory will help him silence his detractors and continue pursuing his Ahinda agenda, sources said.

Too busy to visit drought-hit areas
None seems to care for farmers affected by drought which has gripped not less than a dozen districts.

Siddaramaiah and the ministers are criss-crossing Bengaluru, seeking votes. Top bureaucrats, including chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee, are conducting roadshows in Mexico and Peru.

The roadshows, held from August 16 to 25, are aimed at inviting investors for the Invest Karnataka 2015 summit to be held from November 23 to 25 in Bengaluru, a press note said. 

IAS officers accompanying Mukherjee are D N Narasimha Raju, additional chief secretary to the chief minister, additional chief secretary to Tourism department Pradeep Singh Kharola and Industries Commissioner Gaurav Gupta. The delegation is led by Industries Minister R V Deshpande.


(Published 18 August 2015, 19:49 IST)

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