It would be a surprise if the pathetic state of infrastructure in Bengaluru and the public anger over it against the Siddharamaiah government do not reflect in the voting in next year’s Assembly elections in Karnataka. From the once famous city of gardens, Bengaluru has transformed into a city of chaos with potholed roads and poor drainage pulling the metro down many notches. There is appalling apathy from the establishment and a devil-may-care attitude from the chief minister even as Bengaluru is decaying as no other major city is with infrastructure under virtual collapse. Industry, which once made a beeline for this southern metro is today shying away. Investors are looking at other, less troublesome options. The tragedy is that even if the Congress government is displaced in the upcoming elections, the alternative of a BJP government is hardly reassuring with a corruption-tainted Yeddyurappa likely to don the chief ministerial cap. There is indeed a Hobson’s choice for the people. The maladministration and arrogance of the Siddharamaiah government have touched their peak not just in Bengaluru but in the rest of the state too. The citizenry is aware, enlightened and active as a whole when compared to other big cities but it is helpless in the face of a political atmosphere that spells doom.
This time around, the long and extraordinarily-heavy monsoon showed up the city as a cesspool of corruption and misgovernance. Potholed roads, garbage dumps and poor sanitary conditions are manifest everywhere. At least 10 lives have been lost but the local administration is in denial about the cause of accidents. Agrarian distress being acute, an estimated 471 farmers are reported to have committed suicide in the hapless state. It was in this scenario that there was a hue and cry in the media that the allocations for roads and power were going down the drain in the wake of rampant corruption. Normally not known to be responsive to public criticism, the Chief Minister, apparently out of apprehension over being voted out by the electorate, has reacted this time by cancelling the celebrations for the diamond jubilee of Vidhan Soudha which were to include lavish gifts for the legislators at taxpayer’s expense. The legislature secretariat had sought Rs 26.87 crore from the finance department to hold a two-day legislature session to celebrate the occasion. It had planned to gift gold biscuits to all 300 legislators and silver plates to about 5,000 employees which now stands shelved due to adverse publicity in the media. During the golden jubilee celebrations the Karnataka government had spent Rs 2.4 crore for mementoes. All in all, it is a scary scenario which cries for attention. But the politicians are in deep slumber, pretending to be awake.