Monday, June 27, 2005

Coalition partner JD-S plays spoilsport in Karnataka

Coalition partner JD-S plays spoilsport in Karnataka
The Financial Express

BANGALORE: Opposition parties in Karnataka are relaxing, quite literally. The coalition partner of Congress-led government in the state, Janta Dal- Secular (JD-S) is doing the opposition’s job! They have been opposing infrastructure projects for reasons that are clearly political.

The Bangalore international Airport was supposed to get all government clearances by mid-2004, but this was stretched by almost a year. It is said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh refused to visit Karnataka till the Dharam Singh government gave the required approvals. Similarly, there’s a buzz in political circles that a visit by Rahul Gandhi to Bangalore and his report to Sonia Gandhi about the city’ infrastructure made the chief minister speed up the process of completing a few flyovers.

Likewise, the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project is yet to see the light of the day. The project, which had got all clearances during the SM Krishna government’s term, is awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict. “For last 10 years, our project is suffering. In the previous government, Dharam Singh was the public works department minister, now he is chief minister. Earlier he was co-operative, now due to the pressure from his ruling partner, he is not taking any steps to solve the ongoing issue with BMIC corridor project,” said Ashok Kheny, managing director, Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Ltd. “This government is ‘erratic’ and ‘terrible’”, he says.

The latest controversy is over Metro Rail. Early this year, the Centre cleared the Rs 6,600 crore metro rail project for Bangalore. JD-S president H D Deve Gowda then wrote a letter to the CM and the PM asking them to consider monorail. Though the CM says the state is decided on metro, he has not yet got ‘blessings’ from Mr Devegowda on the project.

There’s another political drama that’s been unfolding. Some Congress members are trying to woo deputy CM Siddaramaiah of JD-S over to their party. If they succeed, the JD-S will suffer a major blow, and this might alter the current political equations, as JD-S might pull out of the government.

Also, the recent Lok Sabha by-polls, which saw former CM S Bangarappa win on a Samajwadi Party ticket, can have some impact. BJP, the main opposition party, too, seems to have lost direction.

Says Ramesh Ramanathan, founder, Janaagraha: “This level of political uncertainty is not good for the state.... This coalition government is doing day-to-day work but is unable to take decisions on major projects.”

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