Can Shettar Be Saffron Spiderman?

Karnataka now has a new Chief Minister in Jagadish Shettar, who is lucky or unlucky, after being sworn in, only God knows, as he has more roles to play and has to prove himself to be a Spiderman of Southern BJP. Caste combination, political compulsions and limited time period are his major stumbling blocks to bring back the BJP with grand success in the coming assembly elections. The Central leadership of the BJP at last managed to unite the party in Karnataka with hard bargains under the leadership of former party chief Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley. The voters of Karnataka had pinned their faith in the BJP for a developed Karnataka, as the state had been reeling under the corrupted rule of Congress party and then JD(S). THE BJP had no stronghold in South India, still people tried to taste the BJP rule, and now they must have been watching the live drama of multi-fractured Kannada BJP leaders, after the resignation of BS Yeddyurappa. From day one, after formation of BJP government under Yeddyurappa, none other than BJP leaders themselves started to dethrone him. But the party high command looked like a silent spectator, observed everything quietly but took no concrete steps to stop the internal squabbling in the Karnataka BJP. In Bihar the BJP speaks from the rooftops that the era of caste politics is over, but in Karnataka the caste politics has taken a front seat, over party, good politics and over all development of the state. The BJP has been exposed for playing dual politics, and setting different principles for different leaders, and it is seen that the central party is not treating its leaders with same opportunity. Sanjay Joshi’s departure from party’s national executive was a shock to all the cadres in the BJP. The party in the state of Gujarat has become more Modi-centric which is unlikely to be for a cadre-based party. There are many Keshubhai Patels and many Govardhan Jhadapias in Gujarat, who are only waiting for the time to give a befitting reply to the party. If the BJP is to retain its first and only hold in south India, it will have to rise above petty and partisan politics and bring the focus back on development and livelihood issues. So, it is not going to be a smooth ride for the new government under Shettar, as there are too many aspirants for the chair who are ready to play the destabilisation card, as we all had seen during the Congress rule. In this free-for-all atmosphere, the BJP seems to be totally confused and finds itself in a self-destructive mode. The party’s senior LK Advani, who continuously writes in his blog against corruption, should focus on his own trusted leaders who are allegedly involved in corruption both in Karnataka and other BJP-ruled states. In media many reports have allegedly blamed some powerful central BJP leaders involved in corruption. Why should the sword only fall on Yeddyurappa, who is an established leader in Karnataka and has proved himself to be a capable Chief Minister after Modi?

Yet meeting the high public expectations, that too in a short 11-month tenure, is a big challenge before new Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar. He should concentrate on administration and pro-people programmes. There should be achievements seen in all the departments–mainly in developing agriculture, infrastructure, human resources and providing social justice to the weak and the needy. The urgent need to address the prevailing drought situation should be of his immediate priority. His government should also strive to make Karnataka ‘number one’ state in the country. Against this backdrop, Shettar’s task appears to be cut out now, and the writing appears to be on the wall. He has to refurbish the image of the ruling BJP, which has got to put its house in order and has to do it quickly, as infighting and acrimonious tussle on the leadership issue has significantly eaten into the party’s public rating. Soft-spoken Shettar, who served as Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister under Gowda, inherits a legislature party which is deeply divided along caste lines, with ugly factionalism in full view of the public. Shettar has to arrest the devaluation of the office of CM and provide it dignity by creating new conventions for a big leap forward of the state. This is all the more importent at a time when the state is passing through complex and cumulative crisis.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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