Former CM Siddaramaiah's new innings beginning on backfoot?

Harsha Raj Gatty
Storyinfinity for Daijiworld

Mangaluru, Jun 13: The Karnataka polls 2018 was something spectacular if not thrilling, it managed to get the complete attention of the nation, some commentators even terming it as giving a head-on competition to the IPL 20-20. A stiff neck-and-neck contest ensued between the BJP, JD(S) and the Congress, with none of the parties conceding defeat till the last minute.

The election came to an end with a spectacular photo-op of the regional front's show of strength at the oath-taking ceremony of the JD(S) leader chief minister Kumaraswamy and his new deputy G Parameshwar of the Congress party last month.

In the midst of the brouhaha of the emotions and bonhomie at Vidhana Soudha among the key leaders of the new order of Congress-JD(S) led coalition, former chief minister Siddaramaiah remained aloof from the glare. For onlookers, it was a completely different Siddaramaiah, who was known for not mincing words, who roared the launch of ambitious 'Anna Bhagya' scheme on the very day of his oath taking in 2013 at Kanteerava stadium. During the election campaign even his Twitter handle was known for outwitting against the opposition BJP's jibes questioning his governance.

Barely a few months ago, Siddaramaiah achieved the feat of being the first among his contemporaries (since 1970s) to complete a five-year term as the Karnataka chief minister. The 70-year old leader who called the shots both at the party, candidates and government policies; was hailed as an apple of the eye of the AICC central leadership.

It seemed that that the meteoric rise of this former JD(S) leader, who joined the Congress camp barely in 2006 was limitless. The leader had taken on the Ballari mining barons Reddy brothers with his 320-kilometre padayatra and his craftiness in mobilising Ahinda movement against BJP's communal polarization had forced the then struggling KPCC to endorse Siddaramaiah's style of politics to remain relevant.

"Even senior Congress leader like Mallikarjun Kharge and G Parameshwar Rao acted helpless as they were clearly told by the high command not to interfere the government affairs," a party leader says.

But come May 15, there was a deafening pause, the leader who exuded confidence of returning as CM, not only lost from Chamundeshwari by an embarrassing margin of 36,042 votes to JD(S) candidate G T Devegowda, he barely survived against BJP candidate Sriramulu with a 1,696 margin. The short-coming of the Congress leader was in tandem with the overall performance of the party in rest of the state as well, where the Congress barely secured 79 MLAs in the 224 constituencies.

While leaders within the party have criticised that 'too-much' minority appeasement of Siddaramaiah cost the party in the polls, others chided him for distancing from Ahinda movement that back in 2013 united the minorities, backward classes and Dalits - and was considered a befitting alternative to the BJP's pro-Hindutva campaign.

However, former Congressman and legislator P Ramesh says that it was sheer 'arrogance' of Siddaramaiah that cost the party. Post the victory at Gundalpet and Nanjangud last summer, the attitude and arrogance of Siddaramaiah came to the fore. "He felt invincible. Along with his small coterie led by former home minister K J George and ex-IPS officer Kempaiah, he distanced himself from the party workers. Be it legislators, party workers or senior leaders - he behaved high-highhandedly with all of them. At the height of over-confidence, he even started addressing veteran leaders in singular tense instead of plural. This drastically effected the minds of the supporters of those leaders, who punished the Congress party as a whole," he says.

According to Ramesh, had Siddaramaiah listened to the booth-level cadre and acted on the inputs, the party would have easily garnered an additional 40+ seats. "Instead, based on a fudged and positive opinion poll of C-fore commissioned by Siddaramaiah himself, he convinced the Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the party leadership to give him full control of choosing candidates," he says.

A senior party leader also alleged that that it was Siddaramaiah, who obstructed the KPCC's pre-poll attempts for reconciliation with former Congress leader Kumar Bangarappa, Dalit leader V Srinivasa Prasad, former chief minister S M Krishna, and actor-turned-politician H Ambareesh. "Hogathana avanu, Hogli Bidu, Karibeda (Is he going to leave the party? Let him go, don't coax him back)," he recollects the former CM saying at one of the meeting following the departure of one such leader.

Moreover, the central Congress leadership was kept at abeyance from the fact that Siddaramaiah no longer commands the loyalty of Kuruba community. "During the pre-poll intelligence showed to us that in his own constituency, barely 52 percent people approved his leadership. That's too less for a CM candidate. Unlike in 2013, Kuruba voters today have branched out to former Congress leaders like A H Vishwanath (incumbent JD(S) MLA), Varthur Prakash, and BJP leaders like K S Eshwarappa," he says.

In fact, Ramesh says it was an open secret that during the 2013 polls, Siddaramaiah used his community affiliation to ensure the defeat of G Parameshwara, so that he could take over the chief minister's mantle. "So it’s fair enough to say that life has come a full circle for him," he says.

Technically, Siddaramaiah had three seats under his belt, besides his own candidacy at Badami and Chamundeshwari, he had also se tup his son Dr Yathindra from Varuna constituency, which deviated the attention of the leader's campaign jurisdiction.

Moreover, the Siddaramaiah cabinet's decision to grant minority tag to Lingayat community evidently backfired. It was largely seen by the Lingayat constituents as a political move to destabilise BJP vote bank and an attempt to divide the community for poll benefit. Subsequently, the Lingayat belt of Bombay-Karnataka and Central Karnataka voted for BJP at 45 constituencies, whereas the Congress lost 20 of the seats 86 seats in comparison to the 2013 results.

Also, Siddaramaiah’s repeated pre-poll verbal assault against JD(S) leader Deve Gowda, H D Kumaraswamy, and ACB raids directed against G T Devegowda worked against him. Not only did the move invite the wrath of the Vokkaliga community against Siddaramaiah, in case of G T Devegowda most of the votes polled to him were out of sympathy by the constituencies.

Even if Congress had won a 100 seats, Siddaramaiah would have definitely come back as the chief minister, but now that boat has sailed, a senior party functionary says.

Back at present, Siddaramaiah who held as many as seven portfolios during his tenure, after the drubbing defeat in the polls, has been reverted to his old designation as the leader of Congress Legislature Party - which was first accorded to him in 2009.

The Congress leader has been appointed as the chairman of (Congress-JD(S)) coordination committee - which is a non-constitutional post. However the party leaders say that given Siddaramaiah’s bitter relations with the first family of JD(S), it is uncertain to what extent Siddaramaiah would be able to bring unity in the coalition government in the midst of the report on growing discontent among the party leaders on regular basis.


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Comment on this article


    Thu, Jun 14 2018


    DisAgree [5] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • MN, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    Siddu lost a golden chance to be remembered as another Devraj Urs Of Karnataka, had he not indulged in certain gimmicks...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dinesh, Dubai

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    now time to check quality of rice in anna bhagya niddana please once eat and tell to public how much looted in Anna bhagya..

    DisAgree [13] Agree [11] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent Rodrigues, Bengaluru/Katapadi

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    He is a seasoned professional leader and will prove his metal in whatever duty which has been assigned to him.

    DisAgree [9] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sandeep Raj, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    I was shocked when the audio of RG shouting at Siddaramiaih was released on many TV channels onthe counting day of Ktaka elections. '..I dont care !!! I dont care how you do it..Just get the damn thing done !!!'. Poor Siddaramiaih had to run and plead to HDK to broker the deal, it was a total humiliation. But he had to bite the bitter pill. Especially after being trounced in his home constituency by a huge margin.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Maria Shilaja, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    Siddu should only thank his stars that the BJP missed the majority mark by a whisker. At least his name is alive. Siddu was arrogant, communal and rude. He took the CM post for granted . Sleeping in the assembly . Visiting temple eating fish and being loud about it to impress certain community .
    Minority appeasement schemes. Bhagyas catering to only one specific community. Just imagine being reduced to a PM of RG and HDK.

    DisAgree [17] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rakesh, Pune

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    One of the worst CM of Karnataka i last 70 Years. Most of the time he was sleeping in last 5 years. Started all unwanted schemes Such, Shadi Bhagya, Cow Thief Bhagya, Rapist Bhagya, etc.. etc..

    DisAgree [67] Agree [25] Reply Report Abuse

  • Deepak, mangaluru

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    you only see sleeping Siddu......

    why you cant see our ROAMING BABA country to country without any benefits to our country ........

    how can you ay siddu is a worst CM ?

    DisAgree [14] Agree [27] Reply Report Abuse

  • Hussainm, mysore

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    Blind Modi Bhakth Never understand just support in the Name of Religion.
    Compare to other state Karnataka is one of the best state in India, Siddaramaiah is mass leader who has worked for the people of Karnataka.

    DisAgree [12] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Elwyn Goveas, Valencia

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    Siddaramaiah one of the chief minister Karnataka has ever seen.A good Administrator,clean image,non corrupt and mass leader you will remain in our heart forever.Karnataka saw great development under his leadership in spite of so many bhagyas people forget all this good works and voted against development.You have won the heart of every Karnataka people

    DisAgree [21] Agree [54] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vikram, Udupi

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    With the creation of JDS-congress sammishra sarkara and with JDS getting CM post inspite of getting 30 odd seats and congress 80 seats and all important heavy duty porfolios being bagged by JDS ;JDS will become strong from here on same like how JDU was strong in 1980's and 1990's in Karnataka where congress was nowhere.

    H D Kumaraswamy is famous and highly skilled in wooing voters with his trademark schemes like janatha darshan,loan waiver etc.He will announce all people friendly schemes in whatever time he is CM and win back the trust of poor masses mainly in southern Karnataka belt where his main competitor is only congress and not BJP,That way congress will go down the drain and all the seats of congress will go to JDS.

    congress votes and JDS votes are same whereas BJP has its own vote share which cannot be altered by congress or JDS.JDS will grow at congress expense.That way, there will be two poles in politics in Karnataka that is BJP and JDS.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mahi, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    Gowda succeeded in sending his spy Siddu to congress and destabilize earlier and now he has made his son as CM and completely taken over Congress...

    DisAgree [11] Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

  • pradeep naik, mangalore

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    Siddaramaiah though did few works, he is adamant ,arrogant and autocrat, most castist CM ever,. His backward/minority appeasement politics irks upper-class Gowdas(vokkaligas), Lingayats ,Brahmins, Bunts,..

    DK shivkumar would be better CM candidate from congress.

    DisAgree [11] Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • Valerian D'Souza, Udupi / Mumbai

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    Up and downs are there for any leader. INC is known for treating well of all there veterans. Overall Siddaramaiah is a good leader. He worker as FM many times, he worked as CM, It's a matter of time, will come back!

    DisAgree [10] Agree [18] Reply Report Abuse

  • sheikh, karkala

    Thu, Jun 14 2018

    siddaramaiah has to swallow even if it is bitter pills. To prevent communal BJP from entering karnataka, it is inevitable. it's need of hour. every one in both cong & JDS coalition has to understand the matter of fact and work together and complete full terms.

    DisAgree [23] Agree [32] Reply Report Abuse

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