How political turbulence in Karnataka hit the common man

A file photo of Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa with his Cabinet colleagues and officials.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Amid tussles involving Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, the BJP high command, and the leader’s detractors, it was often the people of Karnataka who had to pay the price over the past two years. Administration took a back seat with no new flagship schemes or landmark projects taken up, while the COVID-19 pandemic that paralysed everything like never before made up a good part of the two-year period.

Though the Ministers list a slew of schemes and policies, they do not match Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-touted pre-poll promise of putting Karnataka on the fast pace of development. In fact, history repeated itself as the bickering between Mr. Yediyurappa and the party’s old-timers that marked his first stint as Chief Minister came back to haunt him; as did corruption charges.

But despite political turbulences, the first stint had stood out for enthusiasm, leading to the government taking up some noteworthy schemes. But this was missing, both among those in government and the party cadre, this time.

In fact, criticism over lacklustre performances came strongly from the party leaders themselves. While disgruntled leaders such as Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, A.H. Vishwanath, and C.P. Yogeshwar publicly criticised the government for not matching the people’s expectations, some of the party old-timers did not hesitate to express their displeasure over the functioning style of the government while participating in legislature debates.

However, the Chief Minister’s defenders point a finger at the COVID-19 pandemic for the slow pace of development. “Like elsewhere in the country and the world, the pandemic that gripped us had a multi-dimensional effect. Apart from causing a medical emergency that required the utilisation of manpower from various departments and pumping in financial resources, the pandemic also crippled our revenues,” observed a senior Minister. In addition, serious floods that ravaged various parts of the State two years ago too came as an obstacle for development, he noted.

Second wave woes

But the manner in which the government responded to the second wave of the pandemic also came under criticism. Many leaders believe that the Chamarajanagar tragedy of 24 COVID-19 patients dying because of lack of oxygen supply could have been averted had there been proper coordination among officials. On the whole, the reading was that the political bosses could not establish control over bureaucracy because of the political uncertainty. The manner in which Ministers replied to various issues in the legislature session showed how many of them were yet to get a grip over administration.

Amid complaints of corruption and favouritism, senior Minister K.S. Eshwarappa’s complaint to the Governor — that the Chief Minister was interfering in the administration of his department — provided adequate fodder for those trying to find reasons for discontent among some Ministers.

Both the supporters and detractors of Mr. Yediyurappa agree that the manner in which the government was formed (by getting 16 MLAs from other parties into the party fold and providing ministerial posts to most) was the root cause of lack of enthusiasm and the government as the party’s old guards and workers felt left out. In hindsight, many leaders now even argue that it would have been better for the party to opt for President’s Rule and midterm polls after dislodging the JD(S)-Congress coalition.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 6:53:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/political-turbulence-hit-the-administration-hard-in-karnataka/article35530626.ece

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