In 2013, K Siddaramaiah took oath, amidst much fanfare at the Kanteerava stadium in the name of Truth and not God (like many of his predecessors), giving hope to people who were honestly tired of their state being in the headlines for the 'Nataka' of the BJP leaders. He painted a picture in stark contrast when compared to his predecessors who had been accused of being too soft and lacking the political guts to handle the chief ministership, thus not giving the state the much-needed thrust.
Siddharamiah had faced tough inter-party elections, fighting tooth and nail against Congress veterans and old party loyalists for a position that he determinedly had believed to be his. Then, even most other people believed that he was indeed the man for the job; somebody not afraid to shoulder responsibilities, with a mind of his own, not too bogged down with the demands of the party high command. The man to pull the ruling party together and get the juggernaut rolling.
A day after he was elected chief minister, when reporters requested him to climb down a few steps to allow them to get his sound bite, Siddaramaiah, in his inimitable style quipped, I've just risen to the top, why do you want me to come down. But over the next couple of years, with some good support from his party leaders and the media, Siddaramaiah has managed to come down quite well. In the eyes of the people who, with so much optimism, had elected him, and even in front of his staunch supporters who thought he would strike the right balance.
Siddaramaiah is not just a maverick politician but also a veteran administrator. He has served as a deputy CM twice, once under the Janta Parivar CM JH Patel in 1996 and then as the JDS deputy CM to The Congress CM Dharam Singh in 2004. The portfolios he has held in several governments have been diversified, and he has presented annual budgets in the state assembly 9 times.
But in the last 31 months, none of this has translated into action that could either profit the state or even demonstrate Siddaramaiah's brilliance. Blatantly appeasing schemes like Shaadi Bhagya started a slew of controversies for the CM and going forward, decisions like celebrating the birthday of Tipu Sultan whose record is, at best dubious, as a state festival only cemented the CM's image as pseudosecular.
On the development front, the state government has left much to be desired, especially in the capital city where it has almost become a norm now for residents to hold protests regularly to demand better infrastructure. Potholed roads, overflowing sewage in lakes and open drains of Bengaluru have hogged the national headlines way too many times. And the attack is always directly on Siddaramaiah who, when pushed to the corner, has only made empty statements and failed to strike a chord with people to assure them that he is indeed concerned.
Farmersâ€™ suicide has been on the rise, even denting Siddaramaiah's image as a pro-rural CM. Electricity woes have dampened the growth of small-scale industries earning the government the ire of the business community too. Multiple reports of the CM not being open and friendly, both in attitude and on the policy front, have caused some big names like Hero and Amazon to threaten to go to the neighbouring states while some others already have. And Siddaramaiah's off-the-cuff and irresponsible remarks about all this to the media have not helped his cause at all.
Within his party, a mutiny has been brewing almost since the first few months, with members of the Pradesh President G Parameshwara' camp constantly acting as foes within for the CM. Insider versus outsider whispers grow louder, continuing to haunt Siddharamiah who had defected from the Janta Party to the Congress only in 2005. But his iron-grip, on the legislators he brought along with him to the Congress, was strong, and any threat to Siddharamiah as CM could result in an ugly Yeddyurappa-like episode with several of Siddaramaiah's loyalists vowing to move out with him. But as months passed, the number of loyalists kept dwindling and complaints of the CM being too autocratic, not paying heed to anyone else's problems reached the party high command more frequently. And finally, Siddharamiah had to accede to making G Parameshwara number 2 in his cabinet, making him the home minister of the state and giving him a foothold in the government.
Most agree now that the CM of Karnataka has been a colossal failure though the reasons attributed for his fall may vary. One theory is that the fire in his belly is quenched when he was made the CM, as Devegowda and his sons denying that position to him was the single agenda that kept him going. Others say that what was seen as confidence as a Leader of Opposition has become an inflated ego, almost turning Siddharamiah into a megalomaniac. Another theory is that he belongs to the category of people who perform best as the number two; showing sparks of succeeding as the number one but failing when they rise to the top and assume the mantle.