Karnataka

6 months on, Bommai’s efforts at makeover yet to show

There was an overwhelming expectation that a seasoned Basavaraj Bommai would cleanse the system and boost the image of the party and the Government when he replaced veteran B.S. Yediyurappa as Chief Minister of Karnataka six months ago. His predecessor’s tenure was marked by allegations of corruption, nepotism and political uncertainty. The Bharatiya Janata Party is, however, yet to heave a sigh of relief as changes in administration are still not stark.

Good start

The amenable Mr. Bommai began well by trying to project himself as a “common man’s Chief Minister” by shunning some of the privileges attached to his post. He also sought to send a message on focus on administration by holding a series of meetings with officials on a daily basis. But some of this early sheen was lost when his name was dragged into the bitcoin controversy. Soon after, the party suffered a humiliating defeat in byelection to Assembly from Hanagal constituency of Haveri district, which also houses his own Assembly constituency Shiggaon.This was followed by a below par performance in the elections to the Upper House from village panchayats in which the Opposition Congress too matched the ruling BJP’s performance as both won 11 seats each. There was another setback in the elections to Urban Local Bodies in which the party was outsmarted by the Opposition Congress in several areas, including his home turf.While such defeats suffered by the BJP boosted the confidence of the Opposition Congress, these episodes also provided an opportunity to his detractors within the party to speculate about a possible leadership change.However, the Chief Minister now appears to have decided to put such setbacks behind him as he is again making efforts to boost the image of the Government by dedicating more time towards administration and development works. But, the fruits of these efforts are yet to be felt by people at the grassroots level due to poor accountability among lower level administrative machinery, many say.

A section of the BJP leaders and workers themselves admit that the new Government is yet to prove that it is better than its predecessor at the grassroots level.While the lackluster performance of several Ministers has also come in the way of making a mark in terms of administration and service delivery, the lack of stalwarts in the party organisation too is showing up, say many.The unsavoury episodes of right-wing groups indulging in vigilantism and moral policing too have diverted public attention from whatever efforts are being made to activate administrative machinery, observe a few Ministers.

Now that only a little over a year is left for elections to the Assembly, the party cadre is waiting to see if the Chief Minister can do a turnaround and boost the image in time to retain power.Pointing out that the Chief Minister has been focusing on improving administration, particularly service delivery through various programmes, sources close to him maintain that his vision would start showing up in terms of development programmes after the presentation of the State Budget. They blame the pandemic-induced shortfall in revenue collection for the lack of visible progress on many fronts.They maintain that Mr. Bommai is the “best bet” for the party for leadership role given his administrative experience, diplomatic skills, contacts cutting across party affiliations, community background and good will among people.


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Printable version | May 26, 2022 12:40:23 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/6-months-on-bommais-efforts-at-makeover-yet-to-show/article38335626.ece