Having rejigged the batting order, Siddaramaiah prepares for slog overs

Having rejigged the batting order, Siddaramaiah prepares for slog overs

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-06-21 21:53 In his third year in office, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to be showing some energy. Politically, he has been scoring some decisive points. He has just carried out a major reshuffle of his council of ministers and in the process he seems to have had a free hand. This is a little unusual in the Congress where the high command normally keeps chief ministers on a tight leash.  That the chief minister has been largely allowed to choose his team members in itself is a victory of sorts.Siddaraiamah has dropped 13 ministers supposedly for inefficiency, except in the case of one who has been moved out to take up party responsibility. He has inducted 12 new ministers including some seniors and some youngsters. Although some of the outgoing ministers supported by a few who have been unsuccessfully waiting to be inducted into the ministry have raised a banner of revolt, it is unlikely to pose a major challenge to the government. The chief minister seems to be more stable than ever before because some speculations about his replacement with adalit chief minister has been put to rest finally.The cabinet reshuffle has come after the chief minister scored some decisive political points in the Rajya Sabha elections held earlier in the month. Siddaramaiah ensured the victory of all the three candidates fielded by his party despite not having enough votes in hand. He could do this by weening away some of the Opposition Janata Dal MLAs two of whom are from the Bangalore City. With this the chief minister hit two birds with a single stone. He not only ensured the victor of the party’s Rajya Sabha nominees but also thwarted a threat to the Congress control over the Bengaluru City Corporation.The Congress is in control of the Bengaluru City Corporation council with the support of the Janata Corporators.  This has not been a smooth arrangement so far as Dal leaders have been threatening to withdraw their support at the drop of the hat. Now Janata Dal MLAs in the chief minister’s kitty can get the support of the local corporators to the Congress in the corporation council. Moreover, by dividing the Janata Dal he is believed to have consolidated his position in the JD stronghold districts of Mandya, Bengaluru (Rural) and Ramanagara.However, these smart political moves alone are not good enough for the ruling party to face the elections in the next two years. Karnataka is the only major state in the hands of the Congress and therefore the party is under tremendous pressure to retain it against a seemingly renewed BJP under the former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. The political brownie points that the chief minister has scored are not going to enamor the voters among whom his government has not been able to create a very positive impression so far. The responsibility now solely lies with the new team to effect an image change over.With reshuffle, the council of ministers now has seasoned politicians like former Speakers Kagodu Thimmappa and Ramesh Kumar. It also has junior members with modern outlook such as Priyank Kharge and Pramod Madhwaraj. The first three of these have been given the crucial portfolios of revenue, health and Information Technology respectively. While efficient handling of revenue and health departments will go a long way in earning the goodwill of the rural and the poor voters, PriyankKharge has the crucial responsibility of winning the confidence of the middle class voters who have been cut up with the government for allegedly neglecting the IT-BT sectors. Along the new team members the older ministers holding the portfolios of urban development, Bengaluru City Development, Major Industries, Energy and Agriculture will have to work harder for the government to make a mark in the remaining time of its term.One of the fundamental problems that the Siddaramaiah Government has been facing from the day one relates to political communication. The chief minister seems to have no faith in communicating effectively with the people. His ministers seem no better. As a result some of the good works that the government has been able to do have also gone unnoticed especially in agriculture, industries and social welfare. The government has also been fighting the negative image that it has created for itself by weakening two crucial institutions – the Karnataka Lokayukta and the Karnataka Public Service Commission.  Team-Siddaramaiah needs to work overtime to show results. More than that it has to show that it has been working if it has to fight all the negatives that it has accumulated over time and prepare itself to fight the next elections.(The Author is a former journalist and a faculty member in Azim Premji University)