Flare-ups on many fronts; Congress govt faces many challenges 

An FIR was registered against Minister for Planning and Statistics D Sudhakar following a complaint by a woman alleging assault and atrocity over a land dispute.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. (Photo | PTI)
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. (Photo | PTI)

Just when the Siddaramaiah government was riding high on a feel-good factor generated by implementing the guarantee schemes, it now seems to be faced with flare-ups on multiple fronts politically and a daunting task for the administration. The First Information Report (FIR) against a cabinet minister and the government’s response to it raises some serious questions.

In a major embarrassment to the government, which recently completed 100 days in office, an FIR was registered against Minister for Planning and Statistics D Sudhakar following a complaint by a woman alleging assault and atrocity over a land dispute. The minister was quick to rubbish the allegations and the court stayed the proceedings in the case.

However, the development gave the opposition BJP and JD(S) a handle to slam the government as anti-Dalit. As video clips, purportedly of the minister threatening a person, went viral, the opposition demanded that the CM drop him from the ministry, and also sought his arrest. The merits of the case will be examined by the courts. But, the government’s immediate response raised some eyebrows.

Deputy Chief Minister and State Congress president DK Shivakumar termed it a false case even before the probe was taken up. This was in contradiction to the stand taken by his party in 2022 when it questioned BJP leaders for giving a clean chit to then Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) minister KS Eshwarappa in a contractor’s suicide case. As an Opposition, Congress went hammer and tongs questioning the BJP leaders’ statements as that could impact the ongoing probe. The logic and concern remain the same even now. Such instances could dent the government’s image.

On the political front, the internal differences among senior Congress leaders fell into the open with the AICC Disciplinary Action Committee issuing a notice to senior Congress leader and Permanent Invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) BK Hariprasad for criticising Chief Minister Siddaramaiah publicly. The notice was issued after Congress’ central leadership received complaints against him. The veteran leader’s commitment to the party, its leadership, and the ideology is unwavering, but his remarks had angered many, especially Siddaramaiah’s followers.

Whatever may be the reasons for Hariprasad’s displeasure, the whole development of his going public with his views and the party deciding to serve him a notice indicate that all is not hunky-dory in the party that has set itself an ambitious target of winning 20 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Unless the issue is sorted out amicably, it can continue to be an irritant for Congress at a time when the Grand Old Party is trying to push the Karnataka Model across India.

Now, the demand from some quarters within the party to create more Deputy Chief Minister posts can also be a new headache for the government and the party. If the demand gains traction in the coming days, it could put the leadership in a tight spot.

While it remains to be seen how the ruling party will handle the political challenges, on the administrative front, the Siddaramaiah government has to get going on the war-footing to take up drought-relief works.

As many as 195 taluks have been declared drought-hit following the Central guidelines and getting ground truth-finding reports from the deputy commissioners. The cabinet sub-committee headed by Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda is going about the work diligently.

However, as the procedures — sending the report to the Centre, the Central team visiting the state, and releasing the grants — may take some time, the state government has to immediately start the relief works by utilising available resources. Administration, which was heavily focused on rolling out guarantees, needs to show the same vigour in drought relief work. It is going to be a multi-department effort spread across the state.

Also, the government can look at the possibility of utilising the drought relief works to help farmers in the long run. It should not become a Centre Vs State issue, but both should rush to help people in the drought-hit areas.

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