Since he stormed to power under controversial circumstances and took charge as CM for the fourth time on July 26 last year, Yediyurappa has been facing a series of challenges. Though he began his stint on a fiery note, promising drastic changes in three months, the unprecedented floods that hit 25 of the state’s 30 districts in August last year swamped his first three months in office. Another four months went by for bypolls and dissidence over cabinet expansion. For the last four months, he’s been busy battling Covid-19 pandemic.
Initially, the government had managed the crisis well when the numbers were low and won plaudits all around. The government’s timely announcement of Rs 1,610 relief package for the unorganised sector was even hailed by the opposition.
However, complacency and poor planning caught the government flat-footed when cases started rising dramatically once ‘unlock’ happened. BJP sources admit that ego clashes among senior ministers in charge of Covid management and the government’s repeated U-turns and allegations of irregularities in procurement of medical equipment have dampened the mood.
But, Yediyurappa has used this time for some serious public policy reforms. The pandemic in a way also came as a blessing in disguise for the government to push through some of the long-pending key reforms in industrial and labour sectors to improve ease-ofdoing business. About a dozen ordinances have been promulgated in the last two months to take up major reforms to attract investment. The repealing of a 46-yearold law to allow non-agriculturists to buy farmland and changes to the APMC Act to enable farmers trade freely and sell their produce outside mandis is being hailed as progressive.
There are challenges on the economic side. The state has been facing economic headwinds much before the pandemic slowed down its growth and investments. Two successive farm loan waivers accounting to over Rs 25,000 crore since 2018 followed by flood and pandemic-related relief packages of Rs 5,000 crore have put severe stress on the state’s fiscal health. As a result, Yediyurappa could not do much in terms of development projects. Experts said all key irrigation and infrastructure projects remain in a state of limbo now. It in fact forced him to slash the state’s 2020-2021 budget expenditure by 30%. With limited options to explore new revenue sources given the pandemic, unpaid dues from the Centre and slashing of its share in the divisible pool under the 15th Finance Commission, things are expected to be tight.
Politically, it’s been a good year for Yediyurappa as he virtually decimated the opposition as his party won 12 out of 15 seats in the bypolls. His major task in the second year will be combating the virus spread, dousing the rebellion fire and reviving the economy.
Yediyurappa’s one year is a term sprinkled with salt and pepper rather than sugar. Since the day he took office he had hurdles to jump over of the Congress deserters followed by delay in his cabinet approval and his helplessness in getting supportive grants from the Centre for the flood victims. He seemed to be a failing chief minister with no party support or the central leadership. Attempts to destabilise him internally followed by COVID 19 he became a victim of time and an unappreciated leader. Today after one year except for his grassroots leadership and his community, Yediyurappa stands as Chief Minister who has promises to keep before he goes thus leaving him as a symbolic head of the state, said Prof Harish Ramaswamy, political commentator.
It has been one year involving political survival and crisis management. Having come to power by ‘manufacturing’ a majority, the CM had to use all his political skills to remain in power and satisfy diverse interests and groups within the party. This was quite a tight rope walk. Later with the pandemic, the attention shifted from a political Crisis to a health one. Here there was an element of uncertainty on who was in charge though the CM tended to depend on the bureaucracy and the health experts. Overall one sees an element of political fatigue in the leadership, added Sandeep Shashtri, political analyst.