It’s time to end political one-upmanship; deliver as team Karnataka

Now that the elections are over, leaders cutting across parties should shed political one-upmanship and work with the spirit of making the most of the collaborative approach.
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Representative ImageExpress Illustration

As the dust settles post the 2024 Lok Sabha elections which witnessed a fierce contest, it is clear that the BJP’s alliance partner, Janata Dal (Secular), and its top leadership emerged as undeniable winners in Karnataka.

Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s induction into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 3.0 cabinet and allocation of key portfolios — Heavy Industries and Steel — has given a political rebirth to the flagging fortunes of the regional party. After its drubbing in the 2023 assembly polls, the party faced an existential crisis and an imminent threat from Congress.

While Congress was looking for total dominance in the Vokkaliga heartland, the BJP has been striving hard to strengthen the organization at the grassroots level in the region, both at the cost of the JDS’ support base. However, things have changed dramatically after the Lok Sabha polls.

Kumaraswamy is now among the most prominent ministers in the Modi government. That was quite evident from the order of oath-taking, seating position in the cabinet meeting as well as the portfolios given to him. Being a head of the NDA coalition partner gives him a head start.

Be that as it may, what is important for the people of Karnataka is how Kumaraswamy’s soaring political graph could help the state, especially by bringing big investments with the potential to generate employment opportunities. His first reaction after taking oath as the Union Minister was quite encouraging. He explained the potential to develop industries in the state, address unemployment issues in Kalyan Karnataka, and recalled his efforts as the CM to establish industrial clusters in all the districts. He spoke about strengthening the manufacturing sector across India.

As a Union Minister, he must have a national perspective and cannot be rooted in his home state alone. But, whatever the larger plan may be, Karnataka should be incorporated into it. Bengaluru is well established as the tech capital of India with a strong service sector, along with the presence of PSUs. The focus should be on developing the manufacturing sector in the North Karnataka region. Successive state governments have been trying hard to take industries beyond Bengaluru.

It is not prudent to expect too much from any Union Minister as a lot depends on the State Government and its initiatives to develop a region. The rapid industrialization of North Karnataka is possible only by ensuring that it gets programmes under various ministries in the State and Central governments. As the Minister of State for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Shobha Karandlaje could help MSMEs, which play a significant role in boosting the economy and employment generation, while Karnataka Industries Minister MB Patil and IT/BT Minister Priyank Kharge are making efforts to attract investments to the state.

The Global Investors Meet (GIM), which the State Government has decided to hold in Bengaluru from February 12 to 14 next year to attract investments, will be the first major opportunity to showcase the collaborative approach to the development of the state. The biennial aerospace exposition Aero India 2025 will also be held early next year. Karnataka is a leader in the aerospace and defence industry. It contributes to over 65% of aerospace-related exports and is home to 70% of the supplier base for India’s Aerospace and Defence Industry. Over 67% of all aircraft and helicopters for defence and aerospace are manufactured in the state. It’s time to strengthen that base further, while also taking those industries to other parts of the state.

Now that the elections are over, leaders cutting across parties should shed political one-upmanship and work with the spirit of making the most of the collaborative approach. Unfortunately, that element of collaboration was missing in the last year, which was marked by a constant confrontation between the State and the Centre. So much so, in an unprecedented move, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar led a protest in the national capital against the Union Government. The state had to approach the Apex Court for drought relief.

Veteran BJP leader V Somanna’s elevation as Minister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti and Railways could help the State Government in getting the necessary approvals for much talked about Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir Project across river Cauvery, while also fast-tracking Railway projects in the state.

While Somanna can look at the issue with a more realistic perspective when it comes to the consideration of the Union Government, the ruling Congress leaders in the state should take the initiative to convince its I.N.D.I.A bloc partner DMK, which is in power in Tamil Nadu. Somanna will not be able to do much unless Tamil Nadu, which is opposing the project, is taken into confidence.

For ministers from all three political parties, it’s time to put politics on the back burner, at least until the next big elections and work together on all projects and development initiatives.

Ramu Patil

Assistant Resident Editor

ramu@newindianexpress.com

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