The Congress in Karnataka as elsewhere has been busy mocking the Narendra Modi Government’s record of good governance in Gujarat and harping on the BJP’s disregard for secularism. But, the fact is that the Siddaramaiah Government in Karnataka is neither providing good governance nor paying heed to secularism as it is openly practicing and preaching casteism.
The Congress has so far failed miserably in tackling corruption at all levels. The Government is on the defensive with a major case of bribe- taking coming to light in the CM’s own backyard. The use of the phrase ‘Siddaramaiah’s’ backyard is well considered as the portfolio of BDA is high on his list of subjects. In fact successive CM in Karnataka have treated the BDA portfolio as a “holy cow” and accorded it uncalled for importance.
One reason might be that the CM use the BDA as a milch cow as it has authority over acquisition of land in the State capital and adjoining areas, power to issue no objection certificates for conversion of agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes and many more. The other major reason as to why the CMs keep the BDA portfolio with them is that they allot house sites to some deserving or eminent persons and more number of their favourites in the way the maharajas were sanctioning jagirs in the past. Former Congress CMs has the record of allotting house sites to several run of the mill journalists on the basis of their caste and gifted away prime lands in Bangalore to his cronies and some institutions.
Those in the Karnataka Government cannot dismiss the BDA Secretary’s arrest as a criminal act by an individual official. In the first place, she would not have been given the particular posting without the knowledge of the CM or the minister concerned for Bangalore Development, who is the Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy. The Rajamma case has to be viewed against the background of appointing officials to plum posts on the basis of their caste and community and their ability to raise funds for the higher ups. Though, Karnataka has a Lokayukta and two upalokayuktas and the anti-corruption agency is active, the Government is wanting in acting on corrupt officials. It had been revealed in recent months, the Government had failed to act in the case of 95 officials facing Lokayukta prosecution for possessing disproportionate assets (to their known sources of income).
If the Siddaramaiah Government believes in good governance, it has no option but to cooperate with the Lokayukta. The Chief Minister now faces the allegation of raising funds for the Congress through denotification of urban land and permitting change of land use levelled by the former BJP CM DV Sadananda Gowda.
Many politicians in Karnataka believe that a casteist person can pass off as secular. According to them secularism pertains to Hindu-Muslim relations. The results of the Lok Sabha elections from the State and the rest of the country will have a bearing on Siddaramaiah’s future as CM.
—A Jayaram from Bengaluru