Bengaluru: Caste, charges of corruption and callousness. These ‘Cs’ weigh down the Congress government led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as it marks three years in office on Friday. While the old boys’ school of Congress has nursed a grouse against Mr Siddaramaiah for being clannish, charges of corruption surfaced more frequently during 2015-2016 to besmirch his image as well as that of his kin. The government turned callous as the year was marred by a record number of farmer suicides, triggered by its inability to rein in the mighty sugar lobby and make sure that all growers received their dues in time to clear mounting debts.
During the year, the ruling Congress also failed to retain its hold during polls to zilla and taluk panchayats thus losing power in the outback. The sole saving grace was its ability to strike an alliance to grab power in BBMP, leaving many a BJP leader red-faced after the party won 100 wards but could not hang on to office.
It took three decades for the 'opening batsman' of the late Ramakrishna Hegde ministry to begin a new innings as captain of the Congress government, but as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah marks three years in office as the team leader, his boat has been rocked ever so often that the party could well fathom the outcome of polls to the Legislative Assembly in 2018.
For, during 2015-2016 alone, Mr Siddaramaiah and his colleagues have been caught on the wrong foot and have demonstrated their inability to govern resulting in a crash of all systems meant for public good. "All they have done is to announce schemes which match the dictum, ‘old wine in a new bottle.’
“They have lost interest in helping people either by keeping the rural credit system ticking or help those in rural areas create alternative sources of income which could have prevented more than 1000 farmers from ending their lives,” rued a retired bureaucrat, mirroring a major flaw in the style of functioning of the government in the previous year.
Besides its failure to contain an agrarian crisis resulting in farmer suicides across Karnataka, the Congress government slipped up on other fronts as well. For instance, the government has not only failed to pick an ideal candidate for the post of Lokayukta but also tried to reduce it to an institution sans any fangs by establishing the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), a move which attracted flak from within the ruling party itself.
Add to it the recent trauma which young students endured as the question paper for Chemistry exams of PUC was leaked twice.
During the year which went by, Mr Siddaramaiah and some of his cabinet colleagues were squirming in discomfiture as they found themselves in the eye of one controversy or the other. The Chief Minister was accused of sporting an ultra-expensive, but stolen wrist watch, forcing him to declare it as a state asset. Worse, his son Dr Yathindra and his partner, found themselves in the dock after their firm bagged a contract to set up a diagnostic centre at the premises of a government hospital in Bengaluru.