As Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurapppa completes six months in office, there’s both a political and administrative logjam in the state.
While the Centre’s fund crunch and delay in flood relief compensation payout have left the state high and dry and unable to implement welfare schemes, its control over the state ministry (cabinet formation and leaders’ appointments) has cast a shadow on the CM’s functioning.
Yediyurappa, who had dubbed HD Kumaraswamy as a ‘non-serious’ chief minister during the coalition rule which he had also described as directionless, is seen to be falling in the same trap.
Since Yediyurappa took charge as Karnataka’s chief minister for the fourth time on July 26, three days after the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, uncertainty over his tenure continues to loom large.
For a chief minister who had built the party from scratch and garnered considerable support from the Lingayat vote bank, the current impasse with Centre is hindering his government’s functioning.
The Centre is certainly not aligned with Yediyurappa’s functioning. Nor are they able to find a replacement.
Political analyst Narendra Pani says one cannot think of what this government has achieved in the last six months. “It appears to be a logjam on all fronts.”
The CM’s long wait to get approval to anoint rebel MLAs who helped the BJP come to power as ministers, the appointment of four deputy chief ministers, making RSS loyalist Nalin Kumar Kateel as the state BJP president, are all the factors that work against the wishes of Yediyurappa.
Speaking to The Federal, Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao said the current impasse devalued the CM’s post. “The Centre’s views on party affairs are important, but the CM shouldn’t wait for this long to form his ministry. The CM’s post is devalued by the Centre which is not allowing him to function freely,” Rao said.
Considering Yediyurappa’s history of rebelling against the party, political analysts believe his patience could run out soon and cause a headache to the BJP’s central leadership.
“BJP had a very good opportunity to serve the people in difficult times. First, there were floods, then there was an unemployment crisis and then the investments had stagnated. The government should have taken these issues on priority. But they failed,” political analyst professor Harish Ramaswamy said.
“The party which tried hard to come to power by breaking a coalition struggles to move forward. This government has not yet taken off,” he adds.
As on date, there are only 18 ministers in the Karnataka cabinet, including Yediyurappa. As many as 16 ministerial berths are still vacant. While the rebels who won the bypolls on BJP tickets are persistent with their demand for ministership and have put the CM in a fix, the Centre is unwilling to make all them of ministers. Besides, the issue of accommodating all of them in the state cabinet has also upset a section of BJP leaders who have long served the party.
A brief altercation with Lingayat Panchamasali Mutt seer Vachananda Swami, who demanded ministerial berth for MLA Murugesh Nirani and threatened to withdraw support, was an example of rebellion brewing within the party.
The CM even threatened to quit and go home if the seer did not take back his words.
Despite winning 25 of the 28 MP seats in the state and four state MPs holding ministerial berths in the Union cabinet, the BJP is not in a commanding position in the state.
On several occasions, Yediyurappa attempted to highlight the state’s issues and seek funds from the Centre. Sharing the dais with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the CM even appealed to him to release grants for flood relief and for development works. But his request went unattended as the PM stayed silent on the issue on stage.
Rural development minister KS Eshwarappa was blunt in acknowledging that the state was helpless with fund shortage and not in a position to implement housing and employment generation schemes as envisioned.
The state government expects the Centre to cut down devolution of funds to Karnataka by ₹5,000 crore for the coming fiscal. The fear looms large even as the Centre has not released ₹6,800 crore GST compensation, has failed to give flood assistance estimated at ₹35,000 crore — all as the economic slowdown resulting in low revenue collection in core sectors.