By Arun Srivastava
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had to face severe aggression from the BJP leaders for his month old jibe at Narendra Modi asking the people to vote “looking at his face” for all elections. Kharge had said “From municipal corporation election to MLA election and MP election, look at Modi and cast your vote is what you say. Do you have 100 heads like Ravan?”
Undeterred of Kharge’s sneer the BJP will seek vote in the assembly election of Karnataka next year on the face of Modi. Amit Shah on December 31 announced that BJP will go solo without any tie-up with JD(S) and Modi will lead the party’s campaign. Shah sounded confident Modi as the facethe party will win election and form the government.
Shah in the past too had predicted win of his party under the stewardship of Modi but his forecast did not come true. Confidence quotient was quite high got manifest in his remark; “I have been sensing the mood of the people. They are ready to vote for us. All we need to do is reach out to them. No doubt, Modi will lead us. You have to take Modi’s message to the people who are waiting to welcome you”.
Shah’s obliquely underlines that like in other states, the election in Karnataka will veer around communalism and nationalism, and it also unravelled that the development, the economic urgencies and priorities are not going to feature as the electoral agenda. In a communalised electoral situation the development and growth agenda lose its relevance and turns out-dated. It would simply blow over the face of Modi.
There is no denying that the Modi and BJP’s position has turned vulnerable after the Bharat Jodo Yatra crossed through the state. The people who were scared and fearful of opening their mouth and narrate their plights, expressed their frustration and anguish by participating at the rally. Of course the Congress communication chief Jairam Ramesh is right in claiming that Yatra has come a morale booster for the party, the bare fact is it provided the opportunity to the common people who are not the members of the Congress to correlate them with it and openly ventilate their hurt feelings.
Modi is not at all scared of Congress workers getting energized, he is in fact more frightened of common people coming out of their shell and echoing the sentiment and vision of Rahul Gandhi. This would be most dangerous situation for him. A leader who has been feeding the people with the syrup of communalism, hatred and enmity, will certainly be disillusioned at the failure of his formula. Ramesh’s observation is unfortunately minimising the psychological and emotional appeal and impact of the yatra on the common people.
One development is quite significant. Though the hate politics and communal violence have acquired the centre stage of Karnataka politics, the state Congress leaders could not make it a bigger political issue. It was only after Yatra traversed through the state the people have started raising their voice. This is a positive change.
Karnataka is witnessing worst nature of moral policing. Throughout the state large number of vigilante groups pledging loyalty to RSS and BJP have sprung up. It is irony that the political leadership of the state instead of focussing on the economic growth and development of the state have been busy grooming the communal vote banks. This has degenerated the social and economic situation to such an extent that even a frivolous objection, which has no relevance or material is being given top priority by the top executive, the chief minister. The police are flooded with complaints from Hindu bigots against the Muslims. It appears that there is no political or economic issue haunting the people except the Hijab and Muslim bashing.
It is most unfortunate that two evils are riding over the necks of the political system and the governance. The first one is the malaise of cut money and the second is the communalising the administration of the state. Communalised politics has always been a major threat to democratic functioning and the governance. The Bangalore Pragatipara Beedhi Vyaparigala Sangha and other allied organisations deplored the intense communal assault on the livelihood of street vendors in Karnataka.
As communal tensions rise in Karnataka, IT firms ‘reach out’ to Hyderabad and investment-seeking Tamil Nadu. TN Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan also confirmed saying IT companies showing ‘great interest’ in state. Some time back Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson of Biocon Ltd, had also urged Basavaraj Bommai to resolve the “communal exclusion” and “growing religious divide” in the state. She had said that the state’s global leadership in the ITBT (information technology and business transformation) sector was at stake.
One of the reasons for Bangalore losing its sheen for investors is the dismal infrastructure – broken sewage lines, erratic power supply, congested industry clusters. The political leadership is left with no time and energy to take care of these needs. According to industry groups, Bengaluru’s crumbling infrastructure has caused millions in productivity losses locally. According to Outer Ring Road Companies Association (ORRCA), representing major IT and banking companies, IT companies in the city lost over $28 million (INR 225 crore) in a single day on August 30, 2022, as the employees were stuck in traffic jams for over five hours.
Recently the industry in a letter to chief minister Basavaraj Bommai expressed its concerns. “ORR IT generates revenue of $22 billion per annum (32 per cent of Bengaluru’s revenue) and is the highest tax contributor. However, the lack of focus on development of the infrastructure in this corridor is appalling”.
Some companies have transferred critical work to locations outside of Bengaluru and Karnataka, causing reputational and economic damages to the city and the state. It is also alleged that nearly 300 foreign companies operating inBangaluru have shifted to other states, especially to other southern states.
Incidentally the ORRCA had made this request in 2019 to the chief minister. But it is lying unattended. It had urged the chief minister to improve 19 ORR sub arterial roads, which were supposed to ease traffic on ORR during the construction phase. The quality of roads was very poor, making them non-motorable.
“All of this is impacting brand Bengaluru as there is a growing sense that Bengaluru is at risk with inadequate infrastructure vis-a-vis other destinations; with increasing social media coverage, the situation is being closely monitored by CEOs—many of whom sit in other parts of India or elsewhere in the world,” said the president of ORRCA, in a letter to development commissioner in 2017. However, despite its worldwide fame as a hub of the IT industry, Bengaluru’s poor infrastructure has often been its black spot.
The craze of Bengaluru being the most fabulous wage earning city has turned it into the most favoured destination for migration. Lakhs of people belonging to upper class and high earning groups from other states are migrating to Bengaluru. According to the BBMP Commissioner Gupta nearly 5 million (50 lakh) people have been added to the city population in the last 10 years, taking the city’s population to 13.5 million (1.35 crore) people.
Situation which had emerged during the rule of S M Krishna some thirty years back has surfacing once again. The existing infrastructure is unable to cope with the modern challenges. In her tweet Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson and founder, Biocon, says she has not been pleased with the infrastructure. Former president, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FKCCI), D Muralidhar, who has served as member of city’s planning commission and member of the board of governors at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore is not a happy person. He says, “Bengaluru has attracted investments worth lakhs of crores over a period of time. A large chunk of investments, up to a quarter of the $88 billion in FDI, come to Bengaluru. But there is a marked deterioration in the quality of lower bureaucracy as there is rampant corruption.”
It is really a sad experience that India’s Silicon Valley is facing stiff competition from unexpected quarters as the country’s hottest IT destination. Notwithstanding Bangalore is still the number one IT/ITeS location, the bare fact is no longer the natural or the top choice of IT entrepreneurs. They are looking elsewhere to start their IT ventures and to their happiness are finding choices in various parts of the country.
The educational and entrepreneurial institutions are also facing probable threat. This may not happen immediately. The threat looms. Bengaluru is recognised as the educational hub. Just imagine what will happen when other cities turn to the preferred destination for IT sector. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai recently dismissed the attempts to compare Bengaluru and Hyderabad as a ‘joke’. But to really let it be joke he has to ensure that politics of hate and communalisation have no place in Karnataka. He has to eliminate the fear of uncertainty from the minds of the industry. (IPA Service).