Congress leader K. Siddaramaiah, who was sworn in as the 22nd Chief Minister of Karnataka after leading the party to victory in the Assembly polls, would go down in the history of the state as the only Congressmen to have ascended the throne within 7 years of joining the party. However, the CM feels that he is “third time lucky”, as he was denied opportunity twice in the past by former PM H.D. Deve Gowda to take up the role of the CM.
“In 1996, when Deve Gowda was elevated as the PM, I had bright opportunities. Then, when JD-S joined hands with the Congress to form coalition government in 2004, it was my second opportunity. Unfortunately, on both occasions, I was denied the CM’s post by Gowda and his family. Well, that is past now. When my third opportunity came, I did not have to ask for it. I am happy that my leaders saw the CM potential in me. I am extremely thankful to Sonia Gandhi,” Siddaramaiah told Mail Today after assuming the role of the CM.
But he is very clear that he will not pursue vengeance politics, be it the illegal mining scam or land de-notification. “The people of this state have been extremely wise in booting out the BJP from power. They were upset with corruption, nepotism and lack of administration. Therefore, my mandate is to provide people-friendly governance over the next five years. You will see the changes going forward as we will roll out our party manifesto in phases,” he added.
On protests by supporters of Union Minister Mallikarjuna M Kharge, who too was in the CM’s race, Siddaramaiah hoped that it would subside. “Congress is a party known for discipline. In a way, even I am a Dalit! I am sure they will understand when I expand the Cabinet,” he said well aware of the fact that it is a daunting task.
“Yes, I know that I can accommodate only 33 ministers whereas there are more than 60 eligible candidates. I will take care of the equations – region, community, expertise – judiciously. It will be a smooth affair. That should not be a challenge,” he pointed out.
Siddaramaiah is extremely unhappy that Karnataka is no more an investor-friendly state. “We (Congress) put Bangalore on the world map as a premier destination for investments, particularly in the IT sector. Look what the BJP have done. Whatever S.M. Krishna (Cong CM) painstakingly did, the BJP destroyed in 5 years to make Bangalore the “garbage city” of our country. I will clean up all the mess to regain the confidence of investors and the business community,” he asserted.
Lastly, the CM contended that the economy of the state was in shambles. “The finances need to be taken care of. My job begins there…”