CLEAN-UP MIS­SION­ARY

Cam­eras in the chief min­is­ter’s of­fice. A griev­ance cell in his home work­place. Gowda means busi­ness.

India Today - - NATION -

By Sowmya Aji

He be­lieves he is like Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni: el­e­vated to the top job and hop­ing to win the big Cup—read the next Assem­bly elec­tions. Un­like Dhoni, who could de­liver when needed most, Kar­nataka’s new Chief Min­is­ter D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who will com­plete a 100 days in of­fice on Novem­ber 13, has in­her­ited a scam-tainted team from pre­de­ces­sor B.S. Yed­dyu­rappa. The former chief min­is­ter has man­aged to re­mote-con­trol govern­ment func­tion­ing from jail even be­fore his re­lease on Novem­ber 8. Cabi­net col­leagues and Op­po­si­tion lead­ers ac­knowl­edge the fact that Gowda is go­ing out of his way to achieve trans­parency but ev­ery­one thinks he has a tough task on hand.

Known as ‘the ever smil­ing’, Gowda gives his trade­mark grin and claims he is Cap­tain Cool. “I am not ag­gres­sive as I used to be. I used to roll up my sleeves, wear black pants. Now I keep my cool. And I stick to my white shirt and cream trousers,” he says.

The Chief Min­is­ter is aware of his lim­i­ta­tions. “I have told Datty (his wife) not to un­pack all our boxes in the chief min­is­ter’s house. I don’t know how long I would re­main there,” he adds.

Gowda, the first non-mla to be­come Kar­nataka chief min­is­ter, has adopted a style of func­tion­ing dis­tinct from ‘men­tor’ Yed­dyu­rappa. The day he took the oath of of­fice, Au­gust 4, Datty and his en­gi­neer son Karthik told the me­dia, “We will never in­ter­fere in ad­min­is­tra­tion as long as he is the Chief Min­is­ter.” This was a pub­lic jibe at Yed­dyu­rappa, whose sons’ and son-in-law’s shenani­gans con­trib­uted to his be­ing jailed.

About a week into his chief min­is­ter­ship, Gowda an­nounced that he would take the train and the road to travel all over Kar­nataka in­stead of us­ing the helicopter, a prom­ise he has largely kept so far. Yed­dyu­rappa had ac­tu­ally listed his over 2 lakh km of travel, al­most al­ways by helicopter, as an “achieve­ment” of his govern­ment. The Chief Min­is­ter also took off Yed­dyu­rappa’s pho­to­graph from am- bu­lances run by the cen­trally funded 108 ser­vice, Ar­o­gya Kavacha, and di­rected health of­fi­cials on Septem­ber 26 not to re­place that pho­to­graph with his own, say­ing, “It is a pub­lic health ser­vice, not an ad­ver­tise­ment for the chief min­is­ter.” His pho­tographs, how­ever, are up on govern­ment boards for var­i­ous other projects, dis­plac­ing Yed­dyu­rappa.

On the sur­face, how­ever, Gowda scrupu­lously toes Yed­dyu­rappa’s line. He has not changed a sin­gle staffer at the chief min­is­ter’s of­fice and bows to ev­ery whim of his. “Now that Yed­dyu­rappa is out of jail, I will con­sult him once a week. I will con­tinue all his pro­grammes,” he says.

This puts Yed­dyu­rappa in the cat­e­gory of ‘ad­viser’ and min­imises chances of him turn­ing ad­ver­sar­ial.

The Chief Min­is­ter has ef­fected two ma­jor changes re­cently, in­stalling cam­eras in the chief min­is­ter’s of­fice at the state sec­re­tar­iat Vid­hana Soudha and at his of­fi­cial res­i­dence and clear­ing an or­di­nance on Novem­ber 4 for timely de­liv­ery of ser­vices. “There will be no scope for any wrong­do­ing,” he says. Gowda has also hired a 10-mem­ber team to work on a griev­ances cell be­ing set up at his home of­fice. How far Gowda, per­ceived as one of Kar­nataka’s weak­est chief min­is­ters, will be able to carry out changes re­mains a moot point.

SADANANDAGOWDA

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