It has been five months since journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh was murdered. The status of the case has remained unchanged during the period, and so has Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy’s confidence that the killers would be caught “soon”. It was just a couple of weeks after the murder that Reddy first said the police were only days away from cracking the case. He repeated that statement many times after that, every time appearing as confident as ever, recently in the state legislative council too. He even said the killers had been identified and the police are only gathering evidence.
It’s good to have a minister who has so much confidence in his ability and his team’s efficiency. But when that confidence does not produce any tangible outcome for months together, doubts arise. It’s not just the Lankesh murder; Reddy has been making such statements ever since he landed the prime home portfolio in September last year. Recently, alluding to the communal tension and murders in the coastal region, he said Dakshina Kannada district has become a “terrorist factory”.
He went on to say that had he been made home minister two years ago, he would have put an end to that. Intentional or otherwise, the statement was a reflection of his opinion on two of his party colleagues who handled the portfolio before him. But he should have remembered that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah recently blamed the communal violence on intelligence failure, and it’s his home department which is responsible for intelligence gathering.
In January, his department sent out a circular to police officials, asking them to drop communal violence cases against “innocent minorities”. When a controversy erupted over this, he first defended the move saying it was only a “reminder”, and not a circular, but the government was later forced to change the language of the circular. Reddy must realise it’s not enough to talk—he must also walk the talk. No doubt, he loves talking but that’s not why he is a minister.