By M.K. Ashoka
Bengaluru, May 28 (IANS): The Congress government in Karnataka led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is treading cautiously while setting its eyes clear on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
The grand old party could manage to win only one out of 28 seats in the 2019 Parliamentary elections in the state and is now targeting to win at least 20 seats.
By trouncing the BJP in the Assembly elections, Congress has shut the door to South India for the ambitious saffron party.
A close confidante of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Cabinet Minister Dr Sharanprakash Patil explained that the party would put an all-out effort to wrestle all the seats in the state. "The feelings of people have changed. Congress will win at least 25 seats this time," he maintained.
Congress sources explain that a maximum of nine cabinet berths are given to the Dalit community, followed by Lingayats (seven) and five to Vokkaligas. Besides this, seven ministers of OBC and ST communities have taken the oath. The party has allotted two cabinet posts to Muslims, and one each to Christian, Jain and Brahmin communities.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has maintained that a full-fledged government was formed within 15 days after the election results came out in the state. "People have voted for us to power to provide stable and clean governance, and we will live up to people's aspirations. As a first step to fulfil this promise, a full-fledged cabinet has been formed without many differences," he asserted.
Targeting BJP, Siddaramaiah has said, people were disgusted with the struggles of a 'one-man government' and people had witnessed the helplessness of a Chief Minister making trips to Delhi for cabinet expansion. They had seen the futile meetings with the high command, with no results; and today they are witnessing a bold, full-fledged and stable government.
Siddaramaiah has deviated from the path of keeping ministerial aspirants in control by keeping 2-3 berths vacant till the end of the term and has filled all 34 berths, which reflects his confidence and determination. Most of the districts have been given representation except a few, Congress leaders explain.
However, former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has claimed that the "arrogance" of the Congress government is already visible. "The politics of hate pursued by the Congress will end by the Lok Sabha elections. The cabinet ministers are talking about hatred ness and political rivalry. They have chosen hate over development."
Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has predicted that this government will not last long and has called on his party workers to be prepared for new political developments in a few months.
After the pre-poll proposal to ban Bajrang Dal in case of indulgence in anti-social activities struck a chord with the people of the state, the Congress is emboldened and talking about the ban on the RSS. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took a U-turn after Priyank Kharge's repeated statements on banning the RSS and the Bajrang Dal.
The Congress is also all set for textbook revision and stern action on moral policing.
While the grand old party is ready with strong leadership in Karnataka, the saffron camp has to find a leader who can face Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar in the state.
Congress President Kharge hails from the state and his appeal of being a Bhoomiputra of Karnataka has struck a chord with people. After the retirement of former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa from electoral politics, the BJP has no mass leader who could stand up to the stature of Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar and Kharge. BJP is yet to choose the leader of the opposition.
BJP's hopes of banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Hindutva have backfired and it has a daunting task to make its presence felt in Lok Sabha elections as the Congress is marching ahead with confidence, and if freebies are delivered, it is going to be an herculean task for the BJP to repeat the feat of winning 25 seats in the 2024 Parliamentary elections in the state.