The Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka has completed four years. While the Congress plans to mark the milestone with a three-day celebration in Chitradurga starting today to tom-tom its achievements, the BJP has come out with a stinging charge sheet pointing out its various “failures”. That’s politics. With less than a year to go for the Assembly polls, it’s expected of the Congress to try to cash in on the government’s “stable, effective” image and of the BJP to try to exploit its flaws. But beyond the routine political drills, there’s a need to take a critical look at what the government has done in the past four years.
There has been, no doubt, a stable government, despite the “outsider” Siddaramaiah being made CM and in spite of the never-ending party feuds. Its most publicised achievement is the launch of the several Bhagya schemes—welfare measures aimed at various sections. And many of them, though short-sighted, have been effective to an extent. While the CM has spent from state coffers to expand his political base and stature, he has sorely missed the big picture.
Karnataka is going through the third-straight drought year. What has worsened the situation is the government’s failure to foresee the crisis and take remedial measures. Continuing farmer suicides underscore the inadequacy of Krishi Bhagya and other farm-oriented schemes. Another sore point is the government’s lack of intent to find a solution to the urban mess called Bengaluru.
While many road infrastructure plans it came up with got caught up in controversies and had to be shelved, its efforts to push mass transport projects like metro rail and suburban rail have been perfunctory. The metro’s first phase is far behind schedule; little is being done to speed up the remaining phases. The Congress can rubbish the Opposition’s assessment of its governance, but it can’t ignore the people’s report card. Mere pass marks after four years could be inadequate when it seeks votes early next year.