Bangalore: Chief Minister-designate Siddaramaiah, who will be sworn in on Monday at the Kanteerava Stadium, says his first task would be a “thorough cleansing” of the administration by taking the bureaucracy into confidence and speedy implementation of development programmes.
Mr. Siddaramaiah, who recently completed four decades in politics, spoke to The Hindu amid a flood of visitors on Saturday morning. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Your dream of becoming Chief Minister has finally come true.
A. No, I did not dream of the position. Being the son of a farmer/backward class person, I wanted to bring about equality among farmers, backward classes, Dalits and minorities. But it is a challenging task. The Chief Minister’s post is not a bed of roses, but of thorns. I will function carefully and with responsibility.
What is the immediate challenge at hand?
Three-year drought has dealt a serious blow to the people, especially farmers. There is drinking water shortage. Coupled with this, there is a shortage of power. I will attend to these problems immediately.
What are your plans on ministry expansion?
Ministry expansion will be done after consultation and approval from the party high command. There is no proposal to have a Deputy Chief Minister. The exercise involves giving representation to all regions and ensuring social justice, and at the same time ensure efficiency. I am confident that I will have competent Ministers.
Will you induct legislators facing criminal cases, including some in the sights of the Lokayukta?
It is not that they are habitual offenders. There may be cases against some of them, but it should be serious enough to deny a berth in the ministry.
What is the financial position of the State government and what measures will you take to improve it?
Karnataka has gone 10 years backwards because of profligacy adopted by the Bharatiya Janata Party government. I will strengthen administration, including the institution of Lokayukta, bring in transparency, order quick implementation of decisions and development activities. I would mobilise resources, stop wasteful expenditure and pilferage in departments like Public Works, Water Resources and Power, which I did during 2004 and 2005. I will stand up to the expectations of the people without difference in precept and practice.
You are known for your progressive policies and ideas. What are your plans to translate them into action to benefit the downtrodden sections? What will be your priority after the composition of the ministry?
The Constitution is the basis upon which the Congress had promised programmes in its manifesto and we will implement them all over a period of five years. Bringing administration on track and examining the report of the former Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde on illegal mining and how to strengthen the institution to curb corruption is my first priority.
You have come from the Janata parivar; have you been able to assimilate yourself into the Congress?
The assimilation took place long ago and it culminated when the party got a clear verdict followed by my unanimous election as Congress Legislature Party leader.