Nothing works like politics in India. Everything else can fail or collapse, but not the politics of one-upmanship. Take Karnataka, one of the worst-hit states in the second wave. Yes, now on a recovery path but with no anticipatory bail against a third wave. The healthcare infra is exhausted. So are the health workers. Vaccination needs to be on a war footing, but supply is slothful. Once a higher education hub, now Karnataka dangles in an indeterminate space between online and offline. Schools are mired in wrangling between parents and school admins on fees in the cities and between students and broadband providers in the hinterland. Heavy rains and floods are back—farming is in stasis. Fuel prices have skyrocketed. The youth are jobless and listless.
The elected representatives would have been expected to rally behind the people in such times of wholesale distress. But no, they are busy with their political careers. Some from the ruling side regularly spend time visiting Delhi to lobby for a leadership change. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is 78, an exception in his party where the cutoff date for political posts is 75. So just about everyone worth his salt is expecting to succeed him. Not on the merit of, say, exemplary pandemic relief or any such falsely pious reason, but by dint of the size of their communities.
Can the Lingayat vote bank be assuaged if BSY is replaced by another community face? Is it better to try upstage the Congress and JD(S) by putting a Vokkaliga at the helm? The Congress, for its part, cannot make up its mind if PCC chief D K Shivakumar (Vokkaliga) or former CM Siddaramaiah (an AHIND strongman) would be the best bet as the next CM candidate. Elections are two years away, but all political energies are expended on supporters of the two factions targeting the other. What about the people? Who said democracy was meant for them?