100 days: Amid hiccups, Congress going strong in Karnataka
Even critics agree Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar have handled the political and administrative issues rather well
Minor hiccups apart, the Congress government in Karnataka is marking 100 days in office with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar working mostly in tandem despite their lingering political rivalry.
In his second term as chief minister, Siddaramaiah is taking cautious steps as he and Shivakumar are determined to win at least 20 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka next year and deal a major blow to the BJP.
They also need to implement the five guarantees the Congress promised to the people in the run-up to the May Assembly elections, notwithstanding a financial crunch.
Even critics accept that the way Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar have handled political and administrative issues have created a model worth emulating.
Unity on top
Despite their known differences, the chief minister, who is originally from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), and Shivakumar are presenting a face of unity following a strict diktat from the Congress high command.
But there have been missteps.
Shivakumar’s move to visit the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after the Chandrayaan-3 mission even before Siddaramaiah and holding review meetings of even departments that don’t come under his jurisdiction have raised eyebrows.
But cabinet ministers including Chaluvarayaswamy and B Nagendra insist that there are no differences between the chief minister and his deputy.
The Congress government, which came to power riding on anti-incumbency, will complete 100 days in office on August 30.
The Congress swept to power winning 135 of the 224 seats, banking on its five pre-poll guarantees. It is proving to be a challenge to meet the expectations of the people.
In his post on social media on 100 days in office, Siddaramaiah has vowed to follow the ideals of saints and philosophers in letter and spirit.
Shivakumar was more effusive about what the Congress government had achieved in just over three months. “Women are travelling free of cost in state-owned buses, Women heads of families will get Rs.2,000 from August 30. Over 1.41 crore people are availing the facility of free power scheme and 1.36 crore people are getting free rice,” he said.
He added that the Yuva Nidhi programme will be implemented by December to support of unemployed youths.
The government did not implement guarantee schemes in a hurry. Regardless of the criticism from opposition parties, these were introduced in a slow and steady manner. It did experience teething problems initially when the opposition countered the five guarantees with five challenges.
The government faced criticism over alleged cash-for-transfer-and-posting allegations, the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu and the fight for supremacy between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar.
But the two leaders have not escalated their differences – in the interest of the Congress. Though the biggest challenge was to implement the five guarantees with limited resources, Siddaramaiah used his administrative acumen to slash expenses on developmental projects and slice constituency development funds.
It was not easy for him as he had to face the wrath of legislators. Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar joined hands in putting a lid on the dissent that followed.
The government has also ordered probes into the charges of 40 per cent commission in public works and procurement of medicines as well as alleged irregularities in oxygen supply during Covid-19 pandemic when the BJP was in power.
On his part, Shivakumar has gone on the aggression to blunt opposition criticism over the release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
Minister for Major and Medium Industries MB Patil said the fact that the Congress government had kept its promises made ahead of the elections was no small achievement.
The government has come out strongly against moral policing, particularly in Dakshina Kannada district and over fake news which divide the society on religious lines.
An immense although unexpected benefit to the Congress is the BJP’s continuing infighting which has prevented it from picking a Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.