Soon after Congress got an overwhelming mandate, an otherwise stern and emotionless D.K. Shivakumar (DKS) shed tears of joy before the media. Now, he is probably shedding tears of disappointment as he did not get the Chief Minister’s chair. Unfortunate for a man who has been a Congress workhorse all his life.
While many may believe DKS would not have been the right choice because of corruption issues, lack of experience and his inability to become a mass leader, one has to sympathise with him all the same.
DKS has been a true Congressman. He has been its most sincere worker and its saviour. He has organised the most visible rallies and helped save Congress Governments from Gujarat to Maharashtra.
While some Congress leaders today cite DKS’ ‘corruption’ as an issue, the same leaders had no qualms using his money to organise rallies, win votes and save Governments. Let it be. That’s just politics.
Many DKS’ supporters argued that Siddharamaiah had been the Deputy CM and CM uninterrupted for five years, so why again? They even asked how Congress leadership could choose someone whose supporters brought down a Congress Government. How could they choose a person who allegedly was instrumental in the defeat of both Dr. G. Parameshwara, who was then the KPCC Chief and Mallikarjun Kharge so that they both would not be contenders for the CM’s post?
Well, D.K. Shivakumar’s supporters forgot who Siddharamaiah is — he is the child of destiny.
When it comes to politics, Siddharamaiah is a lucky man. A man who became Dy.CM after being an MLA for just seven years, then CM by being in another party for just seven years and now CM again from the same party! While people who have been in Congress party for over two decades have been deprived of that gaddi.
That ‘lucky-Siddu’ streak continues as Mallikarjun Kharge is made to sit in Delhi, Dr. Parameshwara is rendered irrelevant and DKS is forced to accept the Deputy CM post, a position that is not even ‘Constitutional,’ let alone powerful.
It’s clear, Siddharamaiah is the King of Congress in Karnataka.
While we could sympathise with DKS, we Mysureans have reason to be happy as Siddharamaiah, a Mysurean, is the CM. More importantly, we can be hopeful of development as Siddharamaiah gets things done. If we have the new Government Hospitals, which helped us during COVID-19 or the few white-topped roads or the new Maharani’s College, it is because of him.
We are told that the Karnataka CM’s position is like Club Mahindra — a time-share property. The CM position will be shared for two-and-a-half years by Siddharamaiah and two-and-a-half by DKS.
But knowing Siddharamaiah’s luck, he might complete the five years himself, if DKS is convicted in the corruption cases that are still pending before the Enforcement Directorate (ED)!
Now, Siddharamaiah is CM for the first half. Good choice. He has the experience and has some semblance of ‘social responsibility’ and financial probity, which is much needed, or else Karnataka will go bankrupt implementing the five over-zealous promises that Congress has made. However, what does Siddharamaiah’s crowning mean for us, the people of Karnataka?
First, his ability to show the bureaucracy its place. When political leaders are weak or malleable, the bureaucracy takes them for granted and takes us, the public, for a ride. Cunning deals are fixed, politicians are pitted against each other and works are delayed. With Siddharamaiah, a straight shooter, maybe for once, they will do their job so as not to face his infamous wrath.
Certain sections of bureaucracy fear him so much that it was rumoured in the 2018 election that numerous officers reportedly donated huge amounts of money to the opposition party to defeat Siddharamaiah. At least with Siddharamaiah at the helm, good officers may finally have a chance to shine.
Second, he’s not a man of deals. Yes, all politicians are forced to make deals and compromises, but some know where to draw the line. And Siddharamaiah knows where to draw a clear line between profiteering and public service. After all, he was once a Socialist who still retains certain pragmatic Socialist principles.
Third, and probably one of the best aspects, he is an agnostic. He does not believe in religion but does in God. He visited places of worship during the last election and also this election, but it was more for political optics.
Instead of the Government spending our money on religious centres, it may now spend it on developing crucial infrastructure projects, education and health.
Incidentally, Siddharamaiah stood up in the Assembly and spoke vehemently against giving money to the religious centres when BJP went on a religious enrichment-spree.
To add, he does not give prominence to caste. Yes, he is known as a Kuruba leader, but he has surrounded himself with advisers and assistants from all castes. This is why he is seen in political circles as a secular politician. Many say he and H.D. Deve Gowda were the ‘S’ in JD(S).
All of the above traits I mentioned are of the ‘original Siddharamaiah’ before he turned a Congressman.
Since he joined Congress, he has been tainted by the ways of the ‘Big Elitist Party’ and influenced by the affluent Congress leaders.
Only after joining Congress was a Socialist-Siddharamaiah seen wearing expensive watches, driving in very expensive cars, wearing designer shoes and turning away when his new Congress colleagues indulged in corruption.
In his new Congress avatar, he killed Lokayukta instead of giving it more teeth. He raked up the Tipu Jayanthi issue and tried to split Lingayats. All just to win. Not to be the reformer that he once hoped to be.
But now, with the five guarantees, maybe Siddharamaiah is returning to his roots.
If Siddharamaiah is truthful when he says this is his last hurrah in electoral politics, it’s time to become the old Siddharamaiah — the leader we, as young journalists, admired years ago.
Siddharamaiah, if he wants to leave a lasting impression, he has to return to what he truly was … not just a Kuruba leader or an AHINDA leader but a genuinely secular leader who is conscious about social reforms. A leader who can implement pragmatic social security schemes while encouraging industry as it helps create jobs and wealth which can pay for those schemes.
If Siddharamaiah wants to be remembered by all Kannadigas as a Statesman who left behind a better Karnataka, he must become the old Siddharamaiah.
So will the old Siddharamaiah please stand up? …Let’s hope so.
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